There's only one number that matters when you're measuring Vince Young, and it's not the '10' he wears on his jersey.
It's not 6-foot-5, 233, and it's not six years at $58 million. It's not his 26 NFL touchdown passes or 34 interceptions, and it's not even his 1,133 yards rushing as quarterback of the Tennessee Titans.
It's neither his career completion percentage (58) nor his career passer rating (79.1).
In fact, now that I think of it, what best measures Vince Young isn't a number at all. It's a letter, and that letter is W, as in wins, victories, triumphs ... success.
Young is 23-11 as the Titans' starting QB, with five consecutive victories after the team started the season 0-6 and nine straight W's dating back to 2007.
Some of you may also recall Vince's college career at the University of Texas, where he went 30-2 as a starter and led the Longhorns to the 2005 national title with a legendary Rose Bowl performance against USC. His .938 college winning percentage is sixth on the all-time list for NCAA QB's, and he was selected third overall in the 2006 draft despite concerns about his reportedly embarrassing Wonderlic score and his unorthodox throwing motion with its low, un-fundamentally-sound release.
All he did after taking over for his mentor, the late Steve McNair, in 2006 was rewrite the franchise record books for rookie quarterbacks and win Offensive Rookie of the Year on his way to the Pro Bowl. He topped that in 2007 by leading the Titans to the playoffs and landing his first modeling gig on the cover of Madden '08.
Things were looking good for the young Young, but the infamous Madden cover curse struck immediately in the first game of the 2008 season. Young was booed at home in Nashville after a slow start against the Jacksonville Jaguars and nearly refused to retake the field with the first team offense in the first quarter.
He sprained his knee moments later, but Kerry Collins stepped in for Young and the Titans never stepped off the gas, winning their first 10 games of the season and the top seed in the AFC playoffs before an upsetting home loss to Baltimore in the divisional round.
Even after Young's knee had fully healed, Collins remained the starting quarterback, and Young spent all of 2008 and the first half of 2009 watching from the sidelines with a ball-cap and a headset.
Along the way was the over-publicized midseason incident where Young reportedly went AWOL from the Titans facility in a suicidal stupor, and both his sanity and his career have been in question ever since.
Until things suddenly came full circle with Tennessee's 0-6 start and Collins' benching last month. Titans owner Bud Adams -- a maligned and scrutinized figure himself in recent times -- pulled rank and ordered head coach Jeff Fisher to reinsert the franchise's fallen flyer into the starting lineup.
Six wins later, it seems like the past year might've been the best thing that ever happened to Vince Young. He added some poise, perspective and patience to his already immense, innate, and indomitable talent, and suddenly defensive coordinators in the AFC South are acting suicidal.
Last Sunday, Young threw for a career-high 387 yards and the game-winning touchdown as time expired on a season-re-defining 99-yard drive against the Cardinals. This Sunday he takes the Titans on the road to the undefeated Indianapolis Colts with a legitimate wildcard berth now appearing out of nowhere the end of the Tennessee tunnel.
His passer rating this season is 90.2 and his winning percentage is 1.000, but if you need numbers, perhaps a few others better quantify the performance and capture the essence of Vince Young. 2-20-07 was the date the Texas state legislature proclaimed as Vince Young Day in the Lone Star State. Five is the number of charities Vince Young gives his time and money to in both Nashville and his native Houston, according to his biography on NFL.com.
And since all he does is win, the only other way to measure Vince Young is by his immeasurables. Never mind his uncanny instincts and sublime skill set, he's now showing the resolve and resolute confidence of a reliable leader and a franchise quarterback ... again. Young has proven and re-proven himself in the NFL, and mortals will never comprehend the frustration of an immortal who knows he can get the job done when no one else even thinks he can.
Even though his perseverance seems more like petulance at times, parents should be teaching the values of Vince Young to their own petulant children. In fact, there are lessons for all of us to learn from the plight of this young Vince. It seems to be an epidemic in the NFL -- not to mention the entire world of sports and American society in general -- to reject anything or anyone who doesn't fit the description, doesn't look the part, or doesn't satisfy the static standards of a stationary status-quo.
Too many people are too easily fooled now days in this country, marching past what they need to clamor around what they think they want.
Too many recruiters and scouts ignore great athletes because they're 5-11, 185 instead of 6-1, 205. Too many pitchers fall through the cracks because they throw 91 mph instead of 97. Too many power forwards disappear simply because they're 6-8 instead of 6-10.
Too many consumers buy cars with terrible engines because they have pretty paint jobs and plentiful amenities.
Too many women won't give a man a chance if he's under 6-feet tall and makes less than $50,000 a year, yet they stay loyal to the abusive, unfaithful husband who's 6-3 and makes 100-grand.
Too many racist parents forbid their daughter from dating the Mexican honor student or the black student-body president but adore her Christian, Caucasian boyfriend who happens to be a piece of drug-dealing white trash.
Too many neighbors give the benefit of the doubt to the kidnapping, child-molesting serial rapist down the street because he's the first person in the front row at church every Sunday.
Too many politicians are making issues out of nonsense and nonsense out of issues, and too many voters are re-electing their district's war-hawking, perjuring embezzler because he's pro-life. That's how too many Americans voted for Dick Cheney in two different elections without even realizing it.
Am I saying you can't always judge a book by its cover? No, I'm saying you should never, ever judge the damn book by its cover. Open it up and read it.
People in the NFL and the world beyond worry about all the wrong things, and they either can't see the forest for the trees or the trees for the forest. Fans and coaches are often more interested in the athlete they see on paper than the one they see on the field, thus too many Vince Youngs get benched for too many Joey Harringtons and Heath Shulers.
Too many people gave up on Young because they didn't know what to make of him. He looks like a prototypical, drop-back pocket-passer, but he's not. He doesn't look like an athletic, improvising, scrambling playmaker, but he is.
Young is starting to look like a 21st century Randall Cunningham, and he just might be. But perhaps that'll be an unfair comparison before it's all said and done, because Young has always looked and played more like a champion than a Pro-Bowler, and he probably always will.