"I believe God has a plan for me and deep down I believe it's to dominate the NFL." So wrote Titus Young—from an LA prison. In a piece for the Los Angeles Times, Nathan Fenno tracks the former Detroit Lions wide receiver's unraveling, poking at—but not answering—the big question: Is it a football-related brain injury or mental illness that has brought the now-28-year-old to where he is today? Either case could be made: Fenno talked to Young's former high school coach, who recalls a 2006 hit Young took as frighteningly bad. "It's one hit where I thought maybe something happened." Young's family has in court documents blamed his behavior on a concussion he sustained and then played through during his rookie season in 2011, though the Lions have no record of such an injury.
But then there are the incidents: the Lions teammate he sucker-punched during a workout; the arrest for trying to get through barbed wire to retrieve an impounded car; the punch that knocked his lawyer unconscious; the assault on a neighbor that landed him in prison. Young has been diagnosed as bipolar, and Fenno recounts an incident where Young believed a smoke detector was a spying device. An Escondido, Calif., center that gave him in-patient treatment countered that CTE was the problem. His family seems to blame that, too. But the 141-page diary Young wrote in 2017 goes back to mental illness. "A lot of the stuff I have done was out of my control during the time. ... I was hearing voices. ... When I make this comeback to the league, Rodger Godell [sic] and the rest will understand that athletes are not exempt in mental illness." Read the full story here. (Read more Titus Young stories.)