ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Titan/ex-Texas Longhorn hears about Corbin Hayes’ death, wanted to honor him
RIO RANCHO — Larry Dupree is a Vince Young guy. Has been for as long as he can remember.
Getting a chance to stand next to him Thursday was a dream come true. Getting the chance to challenge him to a footrace in front of his friends and Rio Rancho teammates was almost as nice.
“I was a fan of his when he was at Texas and I love being him when I’m playing Madden,” Dupree said. “I’d say meeting him is a dream come true, but beating him in that race would be even bigger. I ran a 10.6 in the (100 meters) at state. He won’t have none of it, though.”
Dupree threw down the gauntlet as the Tennessee Titans quarterback and 2006 Rose Bowl hero wrapped up a speech to help kick off the inaugural Corbin Hayes Memorial Flag Football Tournament at Rio Rancho High School.
Young originally accepted Dupree’s challenge but later deferred to a game of catch with members of the Hayes family.
“I was pretty nervous the first couple of throws,” said 15-year-old Garett Hayes, Corbin’s older brother. “It’s an honor having him for this, though. Him being here is a good thing.”
Corbin Hayes lost his life in late May when he drowned in the Rio Grande while swimming with Garett and a few other friends. This weekend’s tournament was renamed in his honor in the weeks that followed.
Young became interested in helping out when his fiance’s sister, who lives in Rio Rancho, told him about the tragic events that led to Hayes’ death.
“Any chance I get to help the kids, help the community I will,” Young said. “I’m just trying to give back, trying to do something so my man, Corbin, will be remembered.”
More than 80 teams will take part in the four-on-four event. Young did his part to generate interest as he shared stories of his upbringing and offered words of encouragement to the modest crowd that gathered at Rio Rancho Stadium.
Young later signed autographs for 45 minutes. That included two ticket stubs from that Rose Bowl win over Southern California, as well as the tiny game jersey worn by Moses Maestas.
The infant son of Albuquerque’s Brian Maestas had his navy blue Titans jersey with Young’s name and number inked with an autograph. Same goes for his father’s vintage Houston Oilers cap and a replica of Young’s AFC Pro Bowl jersey.
“My wife says I’m brainwashing him,” Maestas said of his son. “I’ve been a Titans fan forever and having them draft Vince Young was amazing for me. To meet him and have him sign this for my son — it’s great.”
One thing Young wouldn’t do was address his role with the Titans — or anything else for that matter.
“I’m not here to talk about Tennessee,” he said.
He did, however, show off that NFL arm of his.
Landry Hayes ran a few deep fly patterns on Rio Rancho’s artificial turf. The first pass traveled 55 yards and fell incomplete. The second went about 65 yards and was just out of reach.