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Young’s career began at the University of Texas, where he became a star quarterback, leading his team to victory at the 2005 Rose Ball, thus becoming the #1 draft pick in the NFL. With many offers coming his way, he decided to join the Tennessee Titans as quarterback, replacing his close friend and mentor Steve McNair. Although the Titans got off to a slow start this season, Young is confident about his team choice, and very happy to be working with Coach Jeff Fisher, who’s clearly taken a special interest in this young player.

In addition to his many hours on the field, Young has also been taping a new television show for BET, a show about-not too surprisingly-Vince Young himself. Young explains how the concept for the show came about, “Just prior to the whole season at the University of Texas, BET was paying attention to me a whole lot and they saw how I was on the field—I was a great athlete— and they got word on how I was off the field—I was into the kids, more into the community, reaching out to them. They kind of liked that a whole lot.”

BET began filming the show, called “Next Level-Vince Young” while he was still a student at UT. “You get used to that, being [in front of a camera] as a quarterback at the University of Texas. You pretty much are ‘that guy’. Everybody’s always watching what you’re doing. For the show, I pretty much had cameras around me all the time. But after the Rose Bowl, I was tired and the cameraman was still around. Sometimes, I just got frustrated.”

“Next Level” is really a reality show, that features Vince, his family, and friends in his old Houston neighborhood. Vince plays the role of “mentor”, trying to teach by example how it’s possible to rise up from your surroundings and make something of yourself. “We’re gonna do a whole lot of reaching out to kids who are going through a lot, like when I was a young guy growing up, I went through a whole lot. So I try to stay out of trouble and hang with the right guys, and also be a leader and be humble. So that’s why I want to send out this message to the community to reach and talk to the kids. I want them to know the things that I went through when I was growing up, so they can make a change right now to do something positive. Whatever it is—art, or even ballet, football, basketball, anything. They can be a doctor, a lawyer, anything like that. I want to let them know to stand tall, believe in it, and you can always make it.”

Considering that this show features Young’s actual life, including his nearest and dearest family and friends, one would expect him to have some say in how the show is shot. But in fact, he says, “I have a lot of control. Before I even signed the contract, I had to read all the lines to make sure that I have the most control over all the things going on. That was my biggest fear. I don’t want them just putting out anything that I feel isn’t true about me, my siblings, or my parents.”

He adds, laughing, “You’re gonna trip out about my sister-I mean she’s a character! You’re going to see one of my artists doing a show that sounds pretty good, and see me going out and talking at some of these juvenile events, and talking to the kids. It brought a lot of tears to my eyes just to see how bad they want to stop doing the things they do. There’s a lot of things on there [“Next Level”] that will shock you, but it’s going to be a really good show.”

Now as good as all this sounds, what really sets Vince Young apart from the crowd, is that he has already started a foundation, the Vince Young Foundation that will benefit younthful inner city kids, and help them to stay on a righteous, positive path. Young claims that he was inspired to start the Foundation, thanks to the encouragement of Steve McNair. “People didn’t understand that at my age, why I would be reaching out to kids, when most guys wait ‘til they get a little bit older or more comfortable in themselves to reach out. Me, I’ve been hanging around Steve a whole lot, so I kind of picked that up, and I wanted to start early and get out there now and start passing that message out to the whole world.”

Plus, it seems that this may just be the beginning for the very entrepreneurial Steve Young. “There’s a lot of things going on with the “Next Level”, and with sports entertainment. I’m trying to reach out to a lot of big, big people that are already doing some good things, but act like they don’t have time for these people [inner City kids] anymore. But at the same time, I want to be the person that reaches out to them, and just give time, and say “Hey, just listen to this guy’s cd or this girl’s cd”. At the “Next Level” we’re trying to give everybody an opportunity to show their skills. I felt that it was really important to start something like that—me and the rest of my team.”

“I really do care,” he concludes. "I want to show that I really do care about these kids, and they pretty much are our future, and they can do a whole lot for us if we as parents, as big brothers and big sisters, pass that message to them each day. Every time that they step up and go through some kind of situation out there on the streets, and their big brother or parent isn’t around, they can have in the back of their minds, ‘Hey Vince, my big sister said not to do this, or my mom said, ‘Hey, don’t go down this road.’ So that’s the thing that I want to get out to them, as I keep getting older and older and growing up.”

Since everyone has a dream for when they grow up, what do you think Vince Young’s dream is? “Hopefully—this is my vision. I mean my pastor always says that if you have a vision you can always make it come true. So my vision is to try to always get better and better and also to live my dream. Do a movie with Denzel or Will Smith or them guys! It’d be beautiful.”

“The Next Level” airs on BET, Wednesdays at 9:30p.m. ET/PT

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 61 - September 0195
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