Vince Young on Bills, Rose, rivalries
For the 20th ESPYS, ESPN has selected the 20 greatest sports moments of the past 20 years. At No. 15, quarterback Vince Young led Texas with one of the most dominating performances of his career when he scrambled for a touchdown to lift Texas to a National Championship victory. Young recently spoke with ESPN.com about the Rose Bowl, his favorite memories from the ESPYS and his new role with the Buffalo Bills.
In 2006, Texas defeated USC in the Rose Bowl. Take me back to that moment and the intensity surrounding that game.
All week we heard about USC this and USC that, and when I lost the Heisman, I was pretty upset. As a team, we had to get ready for a huge game and we had to bring it back to Texas. From start to finish, it was a great game.
What do you remember most from the game?
From the national anthem all the way up to the fireworks at the start of the game. It was a great moment. Coach Brown told us it could be one of the most memorable moments of our life if we go out there and take care of our responsibility.
In 2006, you had one of the most dominating individual performances in the Rose Bowl, was that the highlight of your college career?
Yeah. After I had hernia surgery, it was a struggle. At the start of the 2005 season, it was tough talking from the bed trying to make sure my teammates were working out. Overall, finishing that season undefeated as well as winning the Rose Bowl was the highlight of my college days.
With one of the best recruiting classes to ever attend Texas, talk a little bit about coming to Texas that first year.
Coming out of the Houston area from a low-income family, I was one of those kids that didn't think I was going to make it to college. I had to focus a little more, and by depending on my family and friends, I was able to get to the University of Texas. When you finally show up on campus, knowing your mom is dropping you off, you realize that you're officially on your own now. There are a lot of distractions in college, but one of the messages I always preach is: don't forget why you're here. Your goal is to get an education and to possibly win a national championship. And we did all that at once.
Do you ever visit your old high school?
I get back to Madison High pretty often. We always go back to talk the kids on Career Day. We donate equipment and jerseys; we do a lot for that high school.
What was the most memorable part of the ESPYS?
It was pretty great. I think the Pittsburgh Steelers won that year, so I saw the legendary running back Jerome Bettis and I hung out with my good friend Matthew McConaughey. It was one of the best ESPYS I've ever attended. I even got a kiss on the cheek from Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey after they presented me with my award.
If the award existed, who would win an ESPY for the coolest athlete?
Definitely Albert Pujols. His determination and his leadership every year, especially in his Cardinals days was phenomenal. He did a lot for that organization.
What is your best sports moment?
Going to the Pro Bowl my rookie year in the NFL goes down as one of the best sports moments. We came up short in the playoffs that year, but to this day, I still study film from the Pro Bowl to keep my skills on point.
Are you OK with being a potential third option for the Buffalo Bills?
If that's what it is, yeah. But I'm going to compete. I'm staying ready and learning a new system. I'm taking it one day at a time.
How have you worked to change your perception in the public eye and among GMs?I'm just trying to get in front of folks and talk. When people try to judge you from miles away, you can't do much about that, but when I sit down in front of them they have a different perception of who I am face to face compared to what somebody else has told them. You know how that goes.
What's your opinion on the end of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry?
It was tough to see. Thank God we won that last game! The tradition and history of that game is unmatched. A lot of the legends are rallying support for it, too. We want to keep the history going so my kids and the next generation will know about it. Hopefully the NCAA can make sure they play each other at some point.
Who do you look up to? Who or what inspired you early on?
My parents. The women in my family and guys like Steve Young, Steve McNair and Randall Cunningham. My inner circle included my pastor, my mom, family and some friends from my neighborhood who were doing some productive things.
What are you most proud of?
I'm proud of my kids. I'm also thankful my family has stuck with me. I'm a big family guy. They are the ones that keep me going.
What does it mean to be voted on the cover of Madden?
As a child I played it so much, and then, I started receiving all these accolades and being successful. Getting on that cover means a lot. I used to play in tournaments with a lot of my friends back home. It's a big deal because everyone sees it. I consider it a huge success.