O'Hara: Titus Young's Twitter rant does nothing but reiterate a need for trade

Posted Jan 24, 2013

Detroitlions.com columnist Mike O'Hara says the Detroit Lions should do nothing with wide receiver Titus Young until the trade market opens

Titus Young

At the very moment that I'm pressing the send button on this column, it was 22 hours and some minutes since Titus Young exited the social media universe Tuesday after a session of binge-tweeting that was as alarming as it was captivating for the unfiltered expression of emotion.

It ranged from youthful joy to bitter rants about his future, or lack of one, with the Detroit Lions and ended with what surely must have pleased the team's management most - sweet silence. At least for a while.

Young's behavior and attitude last season put himself and the franchise in a bad position. Surely, his Twitter rampage Tuesday only made it worse and closed the gate even tighter on a possible return to the Lions in 2013.

My opinion on Young and what the Lions should do with him hasn't changed since the end of the season.

The Lions should do nothing except wait until the trade market opens officially in March and then start shopping Young to any team that will take him. If they have to, wait until the draft, April 25-27, and deal Young for whatever they can get - a draft pick, a player, or even moving up a few spots in a round.

If no deal is to be made, then the Lions have no choice but to release Young. The damage done in Detroit is irreparable.

Young has the talent to be a productive receiver in the NFL, but there is no way the Lions can trust him to fulfill his potential in Detroit.

Confidentiality laws and other restrictions prohibit employers from disclosing the exact nature of any emotional or mental issues of their employees. Those laws apply to sports franchises, the same as any other business.

However, Young's pattern of behavior over the last eight months indicates he has some serious problems that impact his ability to function on a team.

He was banished from the Lions three times - once for sucker punching teammate Louis Delmas during the offseason workout program, and twice during the regular season for his behavior.

According to reports based on sources close to the team, Young deliberately lined up in the wrong position in a game against Green Bay. He was banished from the team for a week for that transgression.

As it turned out, it was his last game of the season - and, no doubt, his last ever as a Lion. Young  eventually went on injured reserve because of knee tendinitis that did not require surgery.

General Manager Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz have talked in vague terms when asked about Young's future with the Lions.

Mayhew's post-season session with the media on Jan. 3 coincided with Young's appearance at team headquarters in Allen Park to take a required season-ending physical (Young showed up late, incidentally).

Mayhew talked about the difference in Young's performance in his two seasons as a Lion. As a rookie in 2011, his production validated his status as a second-round draft pick: 48 catches, 607 receiving yards and six TDs. He was a solid complement to Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson.

Last season, is production was similar to 2011 on a per-game basis - 33 catches and four TDs in 10 games. But his behavior issues outweighed anything he did on the field. He was a liability.

"He's shown that he can be a productive teammate, and that he can be a good teammate," Mayhew said three weeks ago. "But he's also shown that he can be difficult to work with, so we'll figure that out."

My take then was that Young doesn't have a future in Detroit. Tuesday's tweet-a-thon only diminished his value in any kind of trade.

One of Young's first tweets was a picture of himself being greeted warmly by Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford. It apparently was taken in the locker room after Young had caught the game-winning touchdown pass against Seattle.

In a vacuum, it was a neat photo - a second-year receiver being congratulated by the owner.

But as part of what came later from Young via Twitter, it was anything but neat. It was a mess. A couple examples:

"Never have I ran the wrong route, just put my self where the ball was going."

"Like I said I never been selfish but if I'm not going to get the football I don't want to play anymore."

Schwartz is in Mobile, Ala., coaching the South team in Saturday's Senior Bowl. He was measured in responding Wednesday afternoon to Young's tweets, emphasizing that players represent their franchise at all times.

"Every offensive player wants the football, and there is good ways to go about getting that and there's not so good ways trying to get that done, and this is a pretty good example of not so good idea," Schwartz said in a quote tweeted by Tim Twentyman of Detroitlions.com.

"We obviously still got some ground to cover there."