Don’t call it a comeback: Vince Young faces slew of challenges in CFL

Quarterback Vince Young and his agent, Leigh Steinberg, deftly sidestepped queries Thursday about whether there were NFL teams interested in having the 33-year-old resume his playing career. They instead insisted Young was focusing solely on his “opportunity” with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and not worrying about returning to American football, where he last played in 2011.

“This (CFL) is scaleable,” Steinberg said following a media conference at Mosaic Stadium, where the Roughriders announced Young had signed a contract for one year plus an option year. Financial details weren’t revealed.

Young won’t step immediately into the starting role. Even he understands that Canadian football is different from the game he played exceptionally well at the University of Texas and, to a lesser degree, for five seasons with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and — after a walk-away dispute with head coach Jeff Fisher — one final season with the Philadelphia Eagles. His bio includes a DUI, an assault charge and a bankruptcy.

“I was an immature young man,” said Young. “I had people representing me not in the right way. But I don’t point the finger at them, I point it at myself. Over the past years when I haven’t been playing, I’ve had some time to restructure myself as a person.”

Young has been playing flag football, watching video with his old college team, raising a family, coaching his son, spearheading a charitable foundation and starting business ventures in Texas. He admits he’s not in game-shape and faces a steep climb to get ready:

“I need less time in the office and more time on the football field, working out and throwing passes, or whatever it takes.”

Young has joined a team that recently dealt high-priced, oft-injured veteran quarterback Darian Durant to the Montreal Alouettes and replaced him with an older free agent, Kevin Glenn, in a group that also includes journeymen Brandon Bridge, G.J. Kinne and Jake Waters.

Glenn is the favourite to be Saskatchewan’s starter for the season-opener. Young said he would be “a good teammate” but it’s not realistic to believe that, at his age, he was recruited to serve as a backup. Young has to quickly learn the nuances of the three-down, 12-man Canadian game through mini-camps and training camps, a difficult task not many American-trained quarterbacks have mastered in a matter of months.

“We have lots of good quarterbacks,” said Chris Jones, Saskatchewan’s head coach, general manager and vice-president of football operations. “It’s going to be a competition.”

Jones has been impressed with Young’s attitude since dining last month in Houston with the QB and two assistant coaches. A recent workout also left Jones gushing about Young’s arm strength, deeming him primed for a comeback.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a comeback,” said Young. “I’d say it’s an opportunity. I’m happy I get an opportunity to come full circle. Not many people get that opportunity.”

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