No one knows when Willie Young was born, only that history first records his presence sometime around 1738 in rural Georgia. Already an expert carpenter when he first came into the consciousness of his neighbors, Willie was left alone, both on account of the fact that he worked cheap and because there were whispers that he never aged on account of being the result of a union between the daughter of an African Chieftain and a Cheetah Spirit God whose name, unfortunately, has been lost to history.
During the Revolutionary War, Willie at first refused to fight, claiming that no Englishman ever called him a [racial epithet]. When he was reminded that technically, every one of his neighbors was an Englishman, he figured to hell with it, and took to butchering anyone he caught wearing a red coat. This earned him the nickname William the Bloody, a name which followed him throughout the war.
William the Bloody disappeared from local annals towards the end of the 18th century and it was assumed that he had either finally passed away or that he had simply moved on to find more redcoats to slaughter. It would seem that, oddly enough, the idea of killing redcoats had become personal to Willie. This could never be explained, but there were rumors that despite his initial reluctance to fight the British, it was in fact a Sir Lawrence Henry, an Englishman, who butchered Willie's father, the aforementioned Cheetah God after he had taken shape as a cheetah, while on a hunting expedition. According to legend, Sir Lawrence was seen wearing a red coat when he shot and killed Willie's father, the Cheetah God, and later took his mother as his personal concubine back to London. However, that is all rumor and it conflicts with the initial accounts that Willie killed redcoats because of their inherent racism so perhaps it is not true. This should not be attributed to lazy writing or to the writer simply making shit up as he goes along, but rather to the vagaries of history, in which reality and legend are often intertwined, creating a hazy world in which truth and fantasy are often indistinguishable from one another.
Willie next popped up in Florida in the early 19th century, and it is here that he first acquired the surname Young, which seems to have been a joke perpetrated by those who were acquainted with his growing legend. He joined up with Andrew Jackson and spent years hunting and scalping Indians in the Everglades and throughout the Southeast, and at night he would regale his awed compatriots with tales from his previous exploits during the War of Independence.
Willie earned a great deal of respect despite the racial climate of the day, both on account of his commanding personal presence - he was and is a very large man - and because, according to a diary account from a Chester Smalls, a young volunteer from South Carolina:
"No one took a Red Man scalp like Big Willie. He seems to take an inordinate amount of pleasure in the destruction of the Red Man. At times it seems frightening and even our superiors seem taken aback by his frenzied blood lust. Nevertheless, he is an effective ally in these horrible wars, and a true friend. He once saved me from the arrows of the savage when he buried his hatchet in the Indian's face. I couldn't find the words to thank him, but I later brought him a cup of fine ale, which he downed in one gulp. I found the courage to ask him why he took such delight in the subjugation of the Red Man, and he answered me thusly: 'Chester, never trust the color red. It is the color of true evil, the color of that scandalous motherfucker who killed my father.' He then went into a sort of trance, in which he spoke in strange tongues. I left him alone for the rest of the night and when day broke, I was told that he had moved on as an advance scout. I never saw Willie again, but I would occasionally hear stories of his exploits and while they made my blood shiver, it did my heart well to know that he was on my side."
It would seem that at some point during these brutal Indian wars, Willie Young saved the life of Andrew Jackson. Jackson was so grateful that he granted Young vast lands in the bayous of Louisiana. It is here that the Willie Young legend took on new life.
For several years, Willie lived a prosperous albeit mysterious existence in the Bayou. He had amassed a personal army consisting mostly of runaway slaves and illiterate Creoles, whom he guided on raids of the many plantations throughout the South. For years, farmers and businessmen searched for his base of operations, but almost all of them were stymied by the oppressive Louisiana Bayou. Seeking help from the government, they were told that when he became President, one of Andrew Jackson's first acts was ensuring that the federal government would never interfere with the actions of one Willie Young.
Enraged and confused - especially since by now, Willie and his army had begun hijacking shipments down the Mississippi, earning him the nickname The Dread Pirate Willie - the Southern farmers and businessmen created a league designed to stop him. Incidentally, the seeds of the Confederacy can be found in this league, and while that it is a fascinating story in its own right, it is not particularly relevant in this case and therefore no more will be said of the subject.
This league was headed by one Lamar T. Beauregard, a particularly colorful New Orleans businessman who, despite the warnings and protestations of the other members of the league, decided to lead a foray into the Bayou. Accompanied by a team of French mercenaries and armed with the latest in weaponry, Beauregard was never heard from nor seen again. The only record of his expedition came from the recovered journal of one of the French mercenaries, a certain Jacques de Martin. Loosely translated from the original French:
"They are coming. At night, we can hear strange noises, laughter in the trees, howling and ghostly echoes which seem to rise up from the earth itself. Half of our squad has already gone missing - a man here, two men there, seemingly swallowed up by the swamps, disappearing into this unearthly hell. The men are scared, but Mr. Beauregard tells us that we are superstitious fools, that what we are hunting is a mere man of flesh and bone. But the others tell of a legend of a man who does not die, who cannot die, and although I pride myself on being a man of reason, I fear that this horrible place and the witch king who rules it have made me question the validity of reason. What point is there in logic when the very fabric of existence seems to be mocked by this . . . this Willie Young? I can hear them in the trees now. It is awful. They are coming."
Little is known of Young's life over the next century. There were scattered reports during the Civil War of a giant man stalking the back ranks of the Confederate armies, slaughtering men by the hundreds while a fine mist descended, obscuring both him and his personal army of escaped slaves and illiterate Creoles. There can be no doubt that these accounts refer to Young, although they never state him by name. Interestingly, it would seem that Young had an informal meeting with General Sherman during his march across the South. One Union soldier claimed that no one heard what the two men discussed, but that when General Sherman returned to his men, his face was ashen and all he did was whisper that they had permission. One man reportedly asked "From who?" And all Sherman could do was shake his head and mutter "From the devil himself."
It would seem that Young lived as a veritable King, the Bayou of Louisiana his own personal realm, inviolate, until he was finally betrayed in 1930 by a subordinate named Louis Terrell, who was reportedly bribed by agents claiming to work for Huey Long, the man nicknamed Kingfish, who ruled the state of his Louisiana as his own personal fiefdom from his post as Governor. Naturally, the presence of two such gigantic personalities made conflict inevitable. Thanks to the betrayal of Mr. Terrell - whose body was later found hung from a cross made from alligator bones, probably in retribution for his betrayal - a team of mercenaries, armed with flamethrowers and accompanied by ninjas with shotguns, took Willie Young unaware, while he was in the midst of sexual congress with no less than 14 servants. The servants were taken and later sold to a New Orleans whorehouse, while Young's men were butchered in front of him.
In tears, he pleaded for the life of his number two man, James "The Reaper" Arlington, but he was laughed at by The Kingfish's men, who slaughtered Arlington in front of Young and then horsewhipped Young and bound him in chains. They took him to Baton Rouge, but before they could deliver their prize to The Kingfish, Young miraculously escaped, even though it was said that not even Houdini himself could have escaped the many chains wrapping Young.
It was then that Young seemed to disappear from the public record once again. It wasn't until 1944 when Young turned up in a village in France that he was heard from again. There, he saved a young French girl from the advances of a debauched Nazi Colonel. Grateful, the family and its village named Young as their Mayor and Lord Protector, and it was he who greeted American soldiers as they fought their way to Berlin. They relayed his story, and with great interest and fanfare, Young was brought to Washington where he dined with President Harry Truman following the war. It is reported that the two stayed up for long hours over many months, discussing both Andrew Jackson and foreign policy. It would seem that Young was instrumental in the formation of NATO and also advised the President that immediate warfare with the Soviet Union would be a mistake.
Unfortunately for Young, powerful men often breed powerful enemies and it wasn't long before he fell under the microscope of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Rather than being dragged through the mud as a Communist sympathizer and valuing his privacy, Willie disappeared once again. It is rumored that he found his way to San Francisco where he was a key figure in the rise of the hippie culture but that cannot be confirmed as anything more than conjecture. Others state that he went to Vietnam, where he fought against the Vietcong because they had adopted the communist color of red, which awoke ancient grudges in Willie. However, that is also unconfirmed.
What is known is that Young reappeared in the Public Eye when the movie Highlander was released in 1984. A controversy soon erupted when Young claimed that the movie was written by a man who had gotten him drunk in a bar in New Orleans - where he had reportedly settled down with the descendants of his former personal army - and stolen his life history. The ensuing movie was a worldwide hit, spawning several sequels and multiple television series. While wildly inaccurate, most experts agree that the central character of Conner Macleod is based on Young. A legal battle ensued, and after several years of legal wrangling it was decided that enough of the details had changed so that Young was entitled to little if any compensation. In fact, the only thing that Young received was a replica of a Katana sword - which he still has - with a note attached to it from the writer of the movie, which stated "I did it for my ancestor, the honorable Lamar T. Beauregard. Shove this sword up your ass, old man."
Enraged, Young felt powerless in this new and modern world, and although he received ample compensation when his story was again remade, this time as the hit film Forrest Gump, it was still wildly inaccurate and, Young felt, incredibly offensive. A controversy erupted when Young was caught attempting to break into the home of Tom Hanks, where he planned on "butchering that motherfucker like he was a Goddamn Red Man." It was unclear what that meant, but police speculated that he planned on beating Hanks with the Oscar he won for his performance as the titular Gump.
The only weapon Young had on him at the time he was apprehended was a can of red spray paint and so his sentence was kept light. After spending six months in county lockup, Young emerged claiming to be a new man, and he set about getting himself the formal education that he always wanted but never had. After many years spent in the public school system, Young found that he a natural talent for the game of football. Earning attention from several schools, Young chose North Carolina State University, mostly because one of their chief colors is red, and Young felt that it would be an empowering form of rebirth to don the colors of the man who killed his father. When he was asked if it overwhelmed him to finally come to terms with the color red, Young could only respond by saying "Huh? What the fuck you talking about? That sounds like some queer bullshit to me."
Several years later, after proving himself time and time again on the football field, Young was drafted in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. On being told that he was going to the Lions, Young reportedly wept and said it was worse than the day that motherfucker Kingfish killed his boy, Reaper Arlington.
HOW HE FITS WITH THE LIONS
Well, Young has decent size and athleticism and his years spent hunting Indians and redcoats show that he has a natural predatory mean streak. However, the Lions are pretty stocked along the defensive line for a change, and so Young is really going to have to show something to the coaches if he wants to earn a roster spot.
However, there has been speculation that Young seems to look like a young Julian Peterson - although, we all know now that he's technically a very, very old Julian Peterson, but we'll let that slide - leading some to believe that he could be used as a big outside linebacker. This is interesting, as the Lions certainly need help there more than at defensive end, but such an adjustment would be a large one, even if Young has shown an obvious versatility during his long and colorful life. He likely lacks the coverage skills to play linebacker in the NFL and his future would seem to lie strictly at defensive end. Whether the Lions have room for him there - I don't think they do - remains to be seen.
Even if they do have room, Young is slightly smaller than what the Lions coaches seem to be looking for in a defensive end. But, I suppose he is a natural to keep around in case the Lions have to play the Redskins or the Chiefs. He claims to be a reformed man, but let's see what happens when he sees the face of an Indian looking back at him once again or an arrowhead mocking him from a helmet.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR THIS SEASON
Because of the Lions depth at defensive end, it's highly likely that Young is either cut or sent to the practice squad this season. I doubt that he'd make the team over, say, Jason Hunter, but who knows? The man is certainly an experienced warrior and in these strange and terrible times that can't be discounted.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE FUTURE
There is a chance that the Lions could develop Young into a useful part, but let's face it, this is but a blip in Young's life. Who knows what the future holds for him? There are some who say he is destined to be the man who delivers mankind from the evils of a coming apocalypse. I don't know about that, but it's possible that in the year 2685, people will be writing rapturous odes to him and his mighty deeds. I wish I could tell you what the future holds for Willie Young, but alas, you are all mere mortals and men like Willie Young and myself both pity you and piss on your mortal dreams.
I suppose all you can do is hope that, while your fleeting time on this planet is still in its prime, Young succeeds as a member of your favorite football team. The man may be tomorrow's savior, but today he is just a man trying to sack the shit out of the quarterback. So it is. And what shall be is unknown to all but the wise and those motherfuckers like to keep shit close to the vest. As Willie Young once told Andrew Jackson: "It's a tough world, hoss, and sometimes even the best of men don't make it. But that doesn't mean the story's over. It just means that this chapter is closed. Tomorrow is another chapter, so go to sleep, Andy, we'll kill some more Red Men in the morning."