Originally written February 15, 2013 on The Detroit Sports Site:
This post originally ran on SI.com. Read all of Chris Burke’s NFL analysis on the Audibles blog there at NFL.SI.com. Shortly after hearing his name called during the 2011 NFL Draft, Titus Young sat down for a video interview with ESPN. “I’m very humbled,” a beaming Young said over and over, as he was flanked by family and friends. Young then spoke about his relationship with Detroit Lions wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson: “Worked with him at the Senior Bowl, worked with him at the Combine as well. We had a great connection, I knew he was going to get me.” Less than two years later, one of the lasting images of the Lions’ miserable 2012 season was that of an exasperated Jefferson screaming at Jim Schwartz, during a loss to Green Bay, to pull Young from the lineup. We later learned that Young refused to line up correctly late in that game, pushing Jefferson over the edge. Shortly thereafter, the Lions barred Young from practice. They eventually placed the once-promising receiver on injured reserve and later released him. But the NFL has taught us, with great certainty, that talented players always receive a second chance if they botch their first go-round. And so Young found his way to St. Louis as a waiver claim. That match lasted all of nine days. The Rams reportedly decided to cut Young on Friday, a damning indictment of Young’s current situation. St. Louis did not even wait long enough for Young to begin working out with his new team — Young had done little more with the Rams than take a physical and meet with the coaches. Somehow, during that brief time, he convinced the Rams that he wasn’t worth the trouble, even at the paltry price of about $750,000 for 2013. And now, Young’s NFL career may be over. Falling out of favor with one team happens, even if Young’s Detroit departure was rather explosive. To burn a second bridge in a matter of days, however, throws up all sorts of red flags. Young forced his way out of Detroit by, rather than repenting for his insubordinate actions, taking to Twitter and daring the team to cut him, writing, “I’m tired of the threats.” He also told his former high school coach, according to a report by Dave Birkett, that he thought he was a better receiver than Calvin Johnson. NFL teams love confident receivers. They do not appreciate players who overvalue their own worth. Young has done that to an extreme extent. The Rams were the only team to put in a waiver claim on Young when the Lions bid him farewell. Young, then, likely will go unclaimed during his return trip through waivers, meaning he will be an unrestricted free agent. Perhaps, somewhere a few months down the road, a receiver-needy team will give him call — his ceiling, from a talent perspective, remains rather tantalizing, as evidenced by his 48-catch, six-touchdown rookie season. Most (perhaps all) teams will stay away instead, not wanting to be tainted by the toxic aura Young has created around himself. A lot can change over the course of a couple of NFL seasons. For Titus Young, that shift has taken him from a promising receiver with a world of upside to a locker-room cancer unable to get his act together. Young appears to be running out of chances. He may already have.
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