In what has to be one of the more odd stories of the NFL season, Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young returned to practice Wednesday after spending nine days away from the team for disciplinary reasons.
A player being suspended for disciplinary reasons isn't the strange part of this story. Rather, it's the circumstances that led to Young's dismissal. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Young was dismissed from the team after causing an argument between the coaching staff by intentionally lining up in the wrong place during the Lions' loss to the Packers two weeks ago. Young did this on several occasions during the game before coaches finally figured out what Young was doing. He then mouthed off to receivers coach Shawn Jefferson before being benched for the final series.
Young has given no explanation for his actions during the game, but plans to speak to the media on Friday. What could possibly be his explanation?
Wide receivers have been seen as the divas of the NFL for a long time. They are temperamental, emotional and often times seek out attention and approval from outsiders.
It's not unheard of for receivers to give up on plays; Randy Moss earned a reputation towards the end of his time with the Vikings (the first time) for not running routes or blocking when he knew that the play was not coming to his side.
Young's actions, though, is on a whole different level. The idea of a player intentionally hurting a team seems unheard of in today's ultra-competitive NFL. Players fight tooth and nail to prolong their careers as long as possible. Sabotaging a play would seem preposterous to most; however, Titus Young is starting to make it more and more clear that he is not like other NFL players.
Back in May, Young was banned from participating in OTA's after allegedly sucker-punching teammate Louis Delmas during a workout. It has to make you wonder how much longer the Lions organization will put up with behavior like this.
When he is focused on his job, the second year receiver has shown great promise. Young caught 48 balls for 607 yards and six touchdowns his rookie season. He was also on his way to a productive year this year, making 33 catches for 383 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games.
Young's actions two weeks ago may overshadow any kind of production that he could put up on the field. Is sabotaging your team's efforts to win a game grounds for being cut from the team, regardless of the player or situation?
Titus Young is back at practice this week, likely sitting in the back row and practicing with the second string. But you have to wonder if it's just a matter of time before Young is shown the door.
How could a team trust a player that would sabotage them for his own personal gain? How can his teammates trust that he has their back when the game is on the line? In today's NFL you have to have all 53 players working together and fighting for the same goal in order to win a championship.
I can't see how the Lions can keep Titus Young and continue to say with a straight face that they are doing everything they can to win a championship.