There was no mistaking the anguish in Rob Simi's voice or the conflict he was feeling, as he spoke Monday in the Lions locker room. "It feels like we have such heavy hearts in here right now, because there is so much going on." The irony is, he wasn't talking about Sunday's gut wrenching loss to the Colts - it was much bigger than that. He was talking about a problem that all the game planning, play calling and practice in the world can't seem to influence.
Sims comments surrounded his embattled and now estranged second year teammate, Titus Young, who for the third time this year - has been asked not to show up at the Lions practice facility in Allen Park because of what head coach Jim Schwartz has simply characterized as "Behavioral issues." Beyond that, there haven't been many answers or real clarification of what that exactly means. Nothing definitive has been announced pertaining to his future in Detroit for the rest of the season or going forward, but it is a foregone conclusion that Young has played his last game with the Lions - and that is what has so many of Young's teammates searching for answers.
How could such a talented young receiver squander an opportunity such as this? Many of us will never know - and even those close to him don't seem to understand. After the episode early this year when Young 'sucker punched' teammate Louis Delmas and was sent home many had hoped Titus has learned his lesson. According to Sims, he started showing up at Bible Study on a weekly basis and then came the Week 8 win against Seattle, when Young appeared to turn the corner, putting together the best game yet of his promising career, hauling in the game winning touchdown with just 20 seconds left. The two had exchanged words before the game - then again after.
But what transpired in the five weeks since then have been bizarre and widely unknown by most outside and even inside the team. "For it to flip, just a couple weeks later, it's just hard," said Sims.
For those on the outside, it's unthinkable to imagine - that someone making millions dollars to "Play a Game" could throw it away by not running the play that is called, or putting himself first and hurting his team in the process, but this is about much more than that. Clearly, Young is battling demons that many of us will never begin to grasp in our lifetime and that is the conflict that Sims and perhaps some of his other teammates can't seem to wrap their heads around.
We may have seen the last of Titus Young in a Lions uniform - and to that end, most fans will chalk it up to just another bad draft pick by the team, but to hear Rob Sims fighting back his emotions on Monday it was clear that this was about more than a selfish player who turned his back on his team. Much more.