Would you call the Pro Bowl experiment that was conducted this week a success? Yeah, probably not.
But there was at least one cool story to come out of the event.
About seven months ago, the shocking news came that Steve McNair had been killed. And some pretty gory details followed.
Caught in the crossfire were the ex-NFL quarterback’s kids. Might be easy to forget about those kinds of people in a case like this, but Vince Young never did. Young — who was mentored by McNair as a kid — took the McNair boys under his wing, and invited two of them, 11-year-old Tyler and 6-year-old Trenton to Miami for yesterday’s game. So I asked him how he came up with the idea …
“It’s not an idea at all, that’s family,” Young responded. “I feel like instead of sitting home, they should come out here and hang out with a lot of the guys they do know that have a lot of respect for them. Definitely want to continue to put smiles on their faces, let them know how much their big brother loves them.”
Therein lies the difference between Young’s relationship with the McNair kids, and the elder McNair’s relationship with him.
“He was mostly a father figure, I’m more like a big brother to those guys,” Young said. “Steve, that’s why I always call him ‘Pop’, I didn’t have a father figure around. He came in and took a chance with me, and that’s very rare for a guy with his status. He felt the same love, he felt we were kind of similar and he helped me get to the point I’m at today. I definitely appreciate everything he did for me.”
This is actually just a small part of what Young’s done for his kids. He knows the pain they’re feeling, because he’s feeling it himself.
And he figures he can help.
How? Young said, “Just continuing to being a big brother, that’s basically it. And being active with them. I know sometimes they get tired of sitting around with mom all day, so I’m one of those guys, (McNair’s ex-teammate) Ray Lewis is one of those guys that’ll go pick them up and take them around, hang out, have a good time, and hang around with some men. Same thing if Steve was here that he’d be doing with them.”
But Young was willing to admit that having nights like last night is different. And it’s important to him that he gets to do these things.
“It means a lot to me, it’s hard to even word it,” Young said. “All I want is to continue to see those guys smiling, see those guys happy, and not go into that mode when they break down knowing that ‘Pop’ is not here. I want to continue to help them get their mind off that kind of stuff, and continue to have fun and being kids.”
Pretty cool story, I’d say …