Steve Young: A Great Quarterback and an Even Greater Man

Glenn Franco SimmonsAnalyst IOctober 6, 2008

Younger 49er fans may believe that Steve Young was destined for greatness and take for granted this great quarterback’s legendary play.

However, NFL immortality for Steve Young did not come easily.

In fact, he had to sacrifice and then wait for his break behind Joe Montana—the greatest quarterback in history.

After starring at Brigham Young University, Young went on to play for the USFL’s Los Angeles Express for two years, capped by playing running back in one game near the end of his second season with the team because L.A.’s running backs were all injured.

He was then taken in the first round of the supplemental draft by Tampa Bay, who traded him to the 49ers in 1987.

Despite his career’s forward progress being slowed by Montana’s magic, Young also achieved greatness.

His career stats are quite impressive. He passed for 33,124 yards, 232 TDs, and rushed for 43 touchdowns.

As a two-time MVP and seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Young left the game as one of the most-accurate passers in NFL history, where he remains to this day.

In 1991, Montana was out and Young stepped in, only to sustain a knee injury that kept him out of five games.

Still, he passed for 17 touchdowns and 2,517 yards, en route to posting a league-high 101.8 passer rating.

It was the first of four consecutive passing titles, which he added to in 1996 and 1997, thereby tying him with the legendary Sammy Baugh as the only two NFL quarterbacks to ever win six NFL passing crowns.

49er fans were spoiled.

In 1994, he set the then-record 112.4 passing rating for a season. During this season, he completed 324 of 461 passes for nearly 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Young, who was good enough to be a running back on most NFL teams, also rushed for seven TDs that season, leading the 49ers to a 13-3 record and an NFC West title.

Against a Dallas team that had doomed the 49ers like Dallas did in the early 1970s, the 1994 Cowboys were a daunting team. Still, Young gave it his all by throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for one as the 49ers beat the Cowboys, 39-28, in what many considered the “real” Super Bowl.

In the 1995 Super Bowl (1994-95 season), Young led the 49ers in a textbook dismantling of the San Diego Chargers by passing for 325 yards and a Super Bowl record six touchdowns. He was also the Super Bowl’s leading rusher with five carries for 49 yards.

For his efforts, Young was the game’s most valuable player.

49er fans were spoiled again.

For all of his outstanding football achievements, Young is known as much for his outstanding character, his commitment to friends and charities, his intelligence, and his unabashed honesty.

He was one of the greatest football players to ever play the game, but he is an even better man, father, and husband.