The Parallel Careers of Gilbert Arenas and Vince Young
Remember this commercial?
It was filmed in August 2007 and released later that year on November 5th.
At the time of filming, Arenas was battling back from his first knee surgery resulting from the original injury that occurred on April 4, 2007. He would appear in the Wizards’ first eight games of the 07-08 season before shutting it down for a second surgery on November 21st.
Young, starting his second NFL season, was benched for the Titans’ preseason opener against the Redskins because he left the team’s hotel the night before the game. He had an okay 2007 season, helping guide the Titans to a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance. Tennessee lost to the San Diego Chargers in the wild card game.
Trouble came to a head for Young in late 2008. In a span of a week in mid-September, he was booed by his hometown fans in the season opener, injured his knee, disappeared with rumors of suicide contemplation, and was ultimately relegated to the bench. Titans coach Jeff Fisher named Kerry Collins the starter for the rest of the season.
During the same time period, Arenas’ struggles to return to the court continued and culminated with his third knee surgery on September 17, 2008. He would make a brief two game return to the court in the Spring of 2009, but really wasn’t “back.”
It’s worth mentioning that without Young in the lineup, the Titans went 13-3. Without Arenas, the Wizards had a 19-win season, tying the worst 82-game slate in franchise history.
Fast forward to Fall 2009. Arenas has made a triumphant, ‘so far, so good’ return to the court averaging 28 points on 50% FG shooting and 6.7 assists through three games. And on Sunday, Young made his first NFL start in over 60 weeks, leading a previously winless Titans team to their first victory of the season.
The paths of their respective careers still are on different levels. Arenas simply wants to play basketball and guide his team to wins. He is entrenched as the leader of the Wizards and a return to basketball relevancy looks likely as long as he stays healthy.
Young, on the other hand, is playing for his career. He has a long way to go before he can prove himself as a reliable quarterback to fans, teammates and coaches. He has a steeper hill to climb than Arenas.
The parallel paths of these two players is ironically tied through their joint appearance in Spalding’s ‘Never Flat’ commercial. A sports ball that’s not supposed to lose air.
When the campaign was in the concept stages in early 2007, Arenas was coming off his third NBA All-Star game appearance, surpassing Vince Carter late in the voting process to earn his first starting nod. Young was coming off winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and being named to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Phillip Rivers.
But by the time the commercial came to public view, their careers began to deflate. Not exactly good timing for the Spalding marketing department. Now, almost two years later, both are having a fresh breath of life blown into their careers.