Charles Woodson and Titus Young linked Friday by chronological happenstance

Posted Feb 15, 2013

Detroitlions.com columnist Mike O'Hara discusses the release of Charles Woodson and Titus Young from their respective teams

Charles WoodsonCharles Woodson and Titus Young were linked briefly by chronological happenstance Friday, but the gulf that separates their career paths should serve as a lesson for young athletes in any sport looking to choose a role model to follow.

Both were released by their teams. The Rams dumped Young only 10 days after claiming him on waivers from the Lions. Woodson was released by the Green Bay Packers in a move that was not unexpected because of his age (36) and experience (15 seasons).

In truth, there is no connection between Young and Woodson, except for the timing of their releases.

Woodson is one of the finest all-round defensive backs in NFL history and a leader and role model. Young is one of the NFL's biggest enigmas – a talented, young receiver with behavior problems that have put his career in serious jeopardy in only two seasons.

The Lions tired of Young's behavior after drafting him in the second round in 2011. He was banished from the team three times in 2012 – in the offseason for punching teammate Louis Delmas, and twice in the regular season for his behavior.

He was released by the Lions on Feb. 4, the first official day teams could release players, and claimed off waivers by the Rams.

It took the Rams only 10 days to decide it was not worth the effort to rehabilitate Young, even though they assumed no financial risk in claiming him. His base salary of $550,000 is not guaranteed, and he had to be on the roster at the start of training camp to qualify for a roster bonus of $185,000.

In a press conference Friday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher called Young "an outstanding young talent," that the organization felt was "better suited for another organization" after spending several days with him after acquiring him on waivers.

If given a third chance - or a fourth, fifth, sixth chance - Young would do well to follow Woodson's example.

Woodson acknowledged his release Friday by posting this tweet on the official twitter page of his winery: "Thank you Green bay it was a great run!"

Great it was, in every way, for the man who won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Michigan and began his pro career with the Raiders as a first-round draft pick in 1998. Woodson played on a Super Bowl loser with the 2002 Raiders and a Super Bowl winner with the 2010 Packers.

He excelled in every area, either at cornerback or safety later in his career, and as a return specialist. He was a dedicated, team-oriented player despite his star status. Woodson broke his collarbone in the first half of Super XLV with the Packers.

At halftime, he made an emotional, tearful speech to his teammates about how much winning the Super Bowl meant.

The Packers went on to win, 31-25, giving Woodson the only item missing on his sparkling resume – a Super Bowl ring.

After the Packers' season ended in a playoff loss to the 49ers, Woodson said he intended to continue playing. Whenever he retires, he will be five years away from being voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

He was that good. His 55 career interceptions and 12 career touchdowns on returns attest to that.

Off the field, his philanthropic endeavors are well known. One of them was a $2-milion donation to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, made in 2009.

Young is known for none of that. His hubris and self-delusion expressed in comments – claiming that he's better than teammate Calvin Johnson - and a bizarre twitter barrage a month ago, coupled with the behavior exhibited last season, are evidence of a young man with deep-seated issues.

The Lions have not spoken specifically about Young's problems, no doubt because of confidentiality issues, but it can be assumed that they tried to get him professional help for his problems. The fact that Young was released at the first possible moment would be evidence that Young was not interested in the Lions' help.

Young has become a punch line, and that's sad. So is the wasted talented and the opportunity that Young had to secure the future for him and his family.

Had he finished out his four-year contract with the Lions, it is not unrealistic to think that Young could have signed a second contract worth at least $25 million.

Instead, Young hit the transaction wire on the same day as Charles Woodson. One player is headed for the Hall of Fame. The other, destination unknown.