DALLAS — Six years after entering the NFL as the third player taken in the draft, Vince Young finds himself without a team and with just a fraction of the money he received from a contract that guaranteed him $26 million.
The question is, where did it all go?
In an increasingly caustic war of words, attorneys have been arguing for months over whether Young is an out-of-control spender who put himself deeply in the hole or simply a victim of inexperienced advisers, one of whom was his own uncle.
Either way, the quarterback whose future seemed unlimited after he led Texas to a Rose Bowl victory in 2006 is now back home in Houston and in a tenuous financial condition.
"I would just say that Vince needs a job," said Trey Dolezal, Young's attorney, when asked to give a general assessment of his client's finances.
Young was cut by the Buffalo Bills, his third NFL team, in August. He was trying to make the Bills as a backup, the same role he filled with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011.
The fall has been a dizzying one for the player who twice made the Pro Bowl with the Tennessee Titans. Young sent out a tweet thanking the Bills and their fans after he was released but hasn't spoken to the media since. He declined a request to be interviewed for this story.
Even in pro sports, where tales of squandered wealth abound, Young's plight is "pretty dramatic," said Kenneth Shropshire, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business who has written and lectured extensively on the business of sports.
"You'd think it would be hard to blow that much money," Shropshire said.
Young is suing his former agent, Major Adams, and a North Carolina financial planner, Ronnie Peoples, alleging that they misappropriated $5.5 million. In some instances, the pair forged his signature or impersonated him on the phone or in emails, according to the lawsuit, filed in Houston in June.
The suit was filed five days after a New York lender notified Young that a loan of nearly $1.9 million obtained in his name during the NFL lockout in 2011 was in default. Young is now seeking to stop the lender, Pro Player Funding LLC, from enforcing a judgment of nearly $1.7 million, claiming he wasn't involved in obtaining the loan and that the proceeds went to Adams and Peoples.
"They conspired to take Vince's money," Dolezal said. "It's that simple."
Young was the first client of a company, #1 Next Level Sports and Entertainment Inc., formed by Adams, a Houston criminal defense attorney, and the quarterback's uncle, Keith Young, a former middle school teacher.
Young's problem was "he was just very young … and allowing these people to have too much control over his life and his name," Dolezal said.
That notion is vigorously disputed by attorneys for Adams and Peoples, who say Young has nobody to blame but himself.
"This is a person scrambling helplessly and pointing in all directions to blame others to get out of debt," said Charles Peckham, Adams' attorney.
Adams twice wrote checks to himself from Young's accounts, but both times were out of necessity, including once when the agent was required to use personal funds to charter a plane for the quarterback after he missed a team flight, Peckham said.
Peoples has filed a countersuit in which he castigates Young for allowing his uncle to serve as his business manager despite having no expertise in that field.
According to public records, Vince Young was one of at least 10 NFL players who turned to Pro Player Funding for cash during the lockout. Loan documents show he borrowed the $1.9 million at 20 percent interest, with $619,122 in interest paid up front, and agreed that a judgment could be entered if he missed a payment.
Young authorized $1 million in payments to Pro Player directly from his Eagles salary during the 2011 season, and his accountant was working this year to have a similar arrangement with the Bills, according to court records. However, when a payment due in May was never made, the loan went into default.