When an NFL team drafts a player, particularly at a skill position, in the first or second round of the draft, they are usually given a longer leash than players taken in later rounds. They’re a bigger financial investment, presumably with greater talent, making them more worth some extra patience.
That length of that leash can vary, but it usually stretches at least three seasons. So if a player is struggling with those proverbial “character issues,” he has a few years to get his act together and grow up. Or get so good at football that it no longer matters he’s a terrible, loathsome human being.
Take Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, for example. He slipped to the bottom of the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft because of character issues. Bryant was involved in a number of off the field incidents in his first two years in Dallas, including a particularly ugly domestic assault involving his mother.
If Bryant was some slot receiver scrub they picked up with a late round compensatory pick, the modest numbers he put up his rookie year probably wouldn’t have warranted bringing him back for a second season. But the ‘Boys believed in Bryant’s potential and essentially put him on personal lockdown for the 2012 season.
It paid off in a big way. Bryant had the best season of his career, emerging as one of the premiere wide receivers in the league, and not getting arrested once! Suddenly his future is looking less bleak.
Unfortunately, taking a chance on a notorious problem child in an early round rarely ends with the best case scenario. It’s far more likely to end with the worst case scenario—the worst case scenario being “free agent” (code for recently fired twice and generally disliked by everyone) wide receiver Titus Young.
The Lions would have been better off flushing their second round draft pick down the toilet in 2011 than selecting Young out of Boise State. He plummeted down the draft board because he was more trouble than talent in college. Young missed most of his sophomore season after being suspended for fighting with a teammate.
Always a good sign!
Detroit decided to roll the dice though and they didn’t immediately regret it. Young’s rookie season was solid and he was able to fight his natural impulse to be an explosively violent loudmouth with an overinflated sense of his own worth who is disrespectful and incapable of rational thought.
It must have taken everything in him to keep it together that year, because Young’s true self exploded onto the scene in 2012, blowing up his entire future in the process. In May 2012 he was banned from participating in OTAs after reportedly sucker punching teammate Louis Delmas. He should’ve opted to just stay home to begin with.
Three months later Young was benched by Lions coach Jim Schwartz for violently head butting Rams’ cornerback Janoris Jenkins in the very first game of the season. Repeated acts of violence and insubordination kept him off the field for six regular season games, eventually being relegated to second string.
By the end of the season it became clear that Young was, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, a serious liability. The Lions were fed up with him and he took to Twitter to make sure everyone in the world knew the feeling was mutual. Young’s rants against the organization were ridiculous, not to mention delusional—#HallOfFame.
After his inevitable release from Detroit, Young was signed by the Rams in February 2013. Coach Jeff Fisher said, “We saw Titus as an outstanding young player,” before going on (essentially) to explain that five days with Young was five days too many. He was cut after less than a week in St. Louis.
Then just when you think this kid’s job prospects couldn’t get any worse, he goes and gets arrested for DUI just after midnight on May 5th. He was drunk and driving against oncoming traffic when was stopped by police in Riverside, California. A few hours later Young was booked, cited, and released with a court date.
A few hours after that he was arrested again. This time for burglary. Apparently Young couldn’t get anyone to give him a lift home, or he was really in the mood for a nice scenic ride down coast, because he decided to hop the fence at the tow pound to steal his own car. A very well thought out idea, indeed.
It actually makes you wonder if he was still drunk at the time?
Stealing your own car back after hours after it was impounded because you were arrested for DUI would sound like the worst idea ever to your average sober person. Not that Young is your average anything.
But stealing your own car back hours after it was impounded because you were arrested for DUI is definitely one of those things that could sound awesome if you were super loaded. Booze is basically awesome juice for all occasions.
In any event, two arrests in 15 hours certainly won’t do anything to help Young’s employability. Especially since he decided to see Moreno Valley PD’s misdemeanor DUI and raise them a felony burglary.
Talk about doubling down on the wrong hand.