A Matter of Honor: Vince Young on Mack Brown

A Matter of Honor

As told to Gary M. Lavergne

When I think about my first meeting with Coach Mack Brown, I remember the great respect he showed my mother, grandmother, and sisters. He was down-to-earth and cracked little jokes. That was important to me. On that day, he and Coach GregDavis came to our home, and my relationship with The University of Texas began. Over the next four years and beyond, this remarkable man would become far more than just a coach to me. And I know of no teammate who feels differently.

He understands that football players can never be good unless they are good men. As a coach, he spent a lot of time insisting that we see the big picture and saw us as more than just football players. We represent our families, our team, and especially UT. “The Eyes of Texas” are upon us and the way we live our lives is a matter of honor.

People often assume that legendary coaches have legendary egos. Coach Brown is the exception to that rule. The defining moment of my career as a quarterback for the Texas Longhorns was a meeting between myself, Coach Brown, and Greg Davis. I insisted that I could not be just a pocket passer. I argued that I needed to be more mobile. During that confrontation we disagreed, spoke frankly, and they took me seriously. They didn’t have to, but they showed me the kind of openness and respect that, to this day, I remember and try to show others. It does not surprise me that, when he was asked to explain my success as a quarterback, his answer was characteristically humble: “We quit bugging him,” he said. I am sure there are other coaches out there who would have felt compelled to exert their authority—because they could. Unlike Mack Brown, they don’t know how to win championships.

Immediately after our BCS championship game, Coach Brown told us that this glorious victory “should not become the most important thing in our lives.” He worked us hard every day and we were expected to win. But on every Thursday or Friday he also stood before us reading letters he received from sick or dying children. Every week he gave us the gift of reminding us of just how insignificant our sore muscles or petty complaints were at the time. Many of those children would like nothing more than to be able to go to class like almost everyone else, and that was just one of the reasons why it was a big deal if we skipped ours.

Of course, the legacy of Mack Brown is much more than that. When he spoke, the team sat down and shut up—all of us. He let us have fun as long as we did our job and went to class. And yet, our respect for him included a healthy fear.

He also shared “Momma Sally” with us, and that is a big deal, too.

For those of us who paid attention and have any brains, he is the man we want to become.

Vince Young, BS ’13, Life Member, was a quarterback for the Texas Longhorns from 2003-05.

Credit: UT Athletics.


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