Glen goes with his heart

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

He's still Young at heart, but his heart isn't into it anymore.

And Glen Young promised himself a long, long time ago that even if his body felt strong enough to play another season, his soul would have the last word.

"In my entire life it's probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make," said the Edmonton Eskimos linebacker, announcing his retirement after 13 seasons in the National and Canadian Football Leagues. "This has been a trying, stressful, uneasy, sleepless night kind of deal. Am I doing this at the right time? Am I making the right decision?"

When the Eskimos won the Grey Cup last fall, Young figured it was the perfect exit. Finish on top, ride into the sunset, just like in the movies. But when football is all you've ever known, the hardest thing in the world is convincing yourself to walk away when you're still good enough. So he wrestled with his decision for months, even as he continued to work out in preparation for the 2006 season.

TOUGH CALL

"I wasn't sure," said the 37-year-old father of two daughters. "So I started working out and training, but I just didn't have anything behind it, I didn't feel it. I didn't feel like doing the things anymore that used to be my passion and desire my whole life. And if you're doing something for a paycheque, then you're in trouble. When it's not a love and it's not a passion you have to get out, you have to call it quits, whether you want to or not.

"I always said that the day that I didn't have my heart in it anymore I'd give it up because I didn't want to make myself look stupid, or get hurt, or hurt the team that I'm playing for."

At six-foot-three and 245 pounds, Young saved the hurting for teams he played against during a smash-mouth career that began as a standout at the University of Syracuse. From there, the Toronto native spent three seasons with the San Diego Chargers before returning to Canada for eight more years in the CFL, the last four in Edmonton.

In short, he's seen and done it all.

"I don't have anything left to prove," said Young, who retires after 262 career tackles, four interceptions and seven sacks. "I've been to three Grey Cups, won two of them. I've been to a Super Bowl. I went to five Bowl Games in college and won all of them. I was defensive MVP at Syracuse two years in a row.

"When I look back, going over my career, I said to myself, 'Man, I've accomplished a lot. I have no more goals I've yet to achieve in football."'

So he's riding off into the sunset after all.

GO OUT ON TOP

"If you're 40 years old and you're still clawing away because you have something to prove and you're just not effective anymore, that's what you're going to be remembered for. I don't want that. To go out as a champion is great. People always remember you as a winner and that's a good way to go."

Some say it is the only way to go.

"Glen lived out his dream," said Esks head coach Danny Maciocia. "He was a Canadian who played in both the NFL and CFL and ends his career with a Grey Cup."

Young's next life will still involve football, either as a broadcaster, coach or scout, because the CFL lifestyle, he says, is one of the best-kept secrets in sports.

"It's a great life," he said from his home in Pennsylvania. "You meet great people, you get so much time to spend with your family during the off-season.

"It's better than baseball or hockey because you're only on the road for a couple of days and you come home. You go to work, work hard for a couple of hours and go home. You do things that normal people don't get to do."


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