Vince Young's NFL-CFL move a rarity, often unsuccessful for QBs

Vince Young's NFL-CFL move a rarity, often unsuccessful for QBs

Going from NFL starting quarterback to the CFL has not been a successful transition in the past, but Vince Young is hoping to change that with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Young will turn 34 when the season starts. He started 50 games in the NFL from 2006 to 2011 and hasn't played in a regular season game in more than five years. In fact, Young hasn't played organized football since the 2013 pre-season.

"It's not my first rodeo. It's going to take some time but I love to learn from my mistakes, so we'll see," Young said.

Since the 1970s, a few quarterbacks have cut their teeth in Canada before heading south and having success. Joe Theismann, Warren Moon and Jeff Garcia all used the CFL to launch their NFL careers.

Most of the signal callers who have come to the CFL and thrived have little to no NFL time.

But experienced NFL quarterbacks have not come up north and had much success.

​One exception

The outlier is Doug Flutie.

The CFL legend started 14 games in the NFL from 1986-89, throwing 15 touchdowns.

In 1990 at age 27, Flutie signed with the BC Lions. From 1990-97, the Boston College star played in 136 games and threw 270 touchdown passes. He won three Grey Cups and six MVP awards.

In 1997, Flutie signed with the Buffalo Bills and would play an additional eight seasons.

When asked about any similarities between Flutie and Young, Riders head coach Chris Jones said this: "I'm not going to pigeon-hole: Vince is Vince. He's been successful for a reason."

Drawing on his own experience from coming to the CFL from the U.S., Jones said there is an adjustment.

"Until you get your feet wet there's no set map as to what exactly you need to do as a quarterback or as a coach, quite honestly," Jones said.

"You think you know football, and you know U.S.-style football, and there's a little bit of a learning curve but the more you work the better you get at it."

Advice from Kerry Joseph 

Former Roughrider Kerry Joseph knows exactly what it's like to play QB in the CFL after a long break from throwing the football.

Joseph was a standout at McNeese State University and after a few years in NFL Europe, made the Seattle Seahawks as a safety. 

After four years in the NFL playing defence, Joseph made his comeback as a CFL quarterback for the Ottawa Renegades at age 30. In 2007, Joseph was named CFL Most Outstanding Player and led the Roughriders to the Grey Cup.

"I think the biggest thing that was a plus for me I was still in football. Even though I was playing defence I was still in football." Joseph said from Lake Charles, Louisiana where he's working as an offensive coach at McNeese State.

Joseph said Young has excellent coaches around him in Saskatchewan and said Young's athleticism should help him while he learns the CFL game.

"I think Vince just needs to get behind closed doors, lock in, focus in on the purposes of why he's there and what he's trying to get accomplished with his team and I think everything will work itself out."

Reaction in Texas

Young's signing in the CFL after a long hiatus made headlines in his home state of Texas and was met with surprise from fans and media.

"Shocked. I think that's the only word that there is," said Brian Davis, a reporter who covers the University of Texas Longhorns for the Austin American-Statesman.

Davis said Young is revered in Austin for his role in leading the school to the national championship in 2006.

"A lot of people in Austin think that this is crazy but I kind of think that this is admirable. I'm a big believer in 'don't ever give up on your dreams.' If Vince still thinks that football is in his body then he should try for it."

The American-Statesman broke the news recently that Young was granted a leave from his job at the University of Texas from June 1 to Oct. 31. Davis said the job pays Young $100,000 annually.