Titans first-round draft choice Isaiah Wilson was arrested on DUI charges on Friday night according to A to Z Sports in Nashville. Following the news, Titans fans were not shy voicing their opinions about the arrest online. A wide variety of takes flooded Titans Twitter Saturday afternoon, from completely cutting ties with the first-round pick to much more compassionate solutions.
Of course, it’s easy for us armchair GMs and psychologists to spout out solutions to the Titans (and Wilson’s) dilemma, but I’m not sure any of us can be truly confident in those assertions.
Clearly Wilson is having trouble adjusting to daily life in the NFL. There are expectations that come with the league and expectations that come with receiving that first big paycheck. Hiding your flaws behind a college coach’s words at the press podium doesn’t exist anymore. It’s just you. You are accountable for your own decisions in the NFL.
I also don’t know that it’s fair to label Wilson with any sort of mental illness. We just don’t know the details. We can speculate (and probably rightfully) that he’s not in the best state of mind right now. At the very least I would imagine, and hope, that he’s disappointed that he let his team down. Reports from Paul Kuharsky of him contemplating jumping off a second-story balcony when confronted by campus police at TSU a while back and then today’s report doing donuts in the middle of an intersection in Nashville make it easy to see that he’s not making good choices right now, but we need to understand what we don’t understand, and that’s why those decisions are being made.
Anyone with a mental illness or anyone who is close to someone with a mental illness knows that these diseases are wildly misrepresented and their effects are underestimated by many Americans. We shouldn’t fan any of those flames without any evidence.
Without speculating on any sort of depression or mental illness, I do think it’s fair to at least question his current maturity level and/or state of mind. Changes in scenery have an effect on people. Money has an effect on people. Expectations have an effect on people. All of those things can mold the way we behave, and clearly Isaiah Wilson is behaving in a manner that is not productive for the Titans football team.
And that’s where fans have a right to question, and even be angry at the situation. The Titans are paying Wilson to produce on the field, and that’s not happening any time soon. I have no doubt that Mike Vrabel has conversed with him more than once. He has had some issues to clean up on the field, and his antics off of it are not helping that. Unfortunately, those two dimensions do sometimes cross. When off the field decisions affect players on the field contributions, fans have a right to voice their frustrations.
If I were to give Isaiah Wilson any piece of advice during this difficult time, it would be to trust the culture of the team that drafted him. Trust that everyone is pulling in the same direction, and if he buys in, he will be too. When veterans reach out, trust that they’re wanting to help. The Titans have proved over the last several seasons that their brotherhood goes beyond the football field, almost to a fault. If Wilson can trust the culture and truly buy-in, the team can help him.
In the meantime, I’ll be angry with you all of you guys, but I don’t think it’s time to give up on him yet. The Titans have a solid option at tackle with Dennis Kelly, who has bailed the team out of tough situations many times in the past. Let Kelly settle in for a season and see if Wilson can get back on track. Luckily for him, he was drafted to a team that has that luxury. It could be worse, as expectations in year one could (and would) be much higher at another destination.
Good luck, Isaiah Wilson.