Steve Young

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Jon Steven Young is the greatest left-handed quarterback in pro football history.

Born on October 11, 1961 in Salt Lake City, Utah—a city that was founded by his great-great-great grandfather, Brigham Young—into a family of five children, the family moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, the most affluent town in the United States, when Steve was eight. Young co-captained the football, basketball and baseball teams at Greenwich High School, emerging as the starting quarterback in his junior year in a run-based option offense. He was named All-State as a senior after leading the Cardinals to the Fairfield County title game before losing, 17-0, to Darien. Young averaged 15 points a game in basketball, hit .384 in baseball, and went 5-1 as a hard-throwing pitcher, including a no-hitter against New Canaan High School in his senior year. Army, North Carolina and Virginia recruited Young to play quarterback in their run-oriented offenses, but he opted to attend BYU—alma mater of his father, LeGrande, and school that bore his great-great-great grandfather’s name. LeGrande Young had played linebacker and fullback at BYU and was known as “Grit.” His son arrived in Provo and, as a freshman, found himself the eighth-string quarterback. He backed up future Super Bowl winner Jim McMahon—whom Young credits with teaching him how to properly throw a football—in his sophomore year and earned the starting position as a junior. Young’s breakout season came his senior year, when he set 13 NCAA records, including highest completion percentage [71.3%], and the Cougars led the nation in total offense. He finished his career with 592 completions for 7,733 yards and 56 touchdowns while also running for 1,048 yards and 18 scores. Young was named first team All-America and one of the top five student-athletes in the U.S while earning the Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh Awards as the best quarterback in college football. He finished second to Nebraska’s Mike Rozier in Heisman Trophy voting before scoring the game-winning touchdown to beat Missouri in the 1983 Holiday Bowl.

Young signed a record 10-year, $40 million contract with the USFL’s Los Angeles Express in 1984 and agreed to accept payment in the form of an annuity to be paid out over 40 years. In his rookie season, he became the first pro football player to pass for 300 yards and rush for another 100 in a single game. The fledgling USFL struggled to establish a fan base in L.A. so Young bought out his contract in 1985 and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had selected him in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft. The Bucs went 2-14 in each of his first two seasons and Young threw for 11 touchdowns with 21 interceptions in 19 games. On April 24, 1987, the San Francisco 49ers sent 2nd and 4th round draft picks to Tampa Bay in exchange for Steve Young, whom they sought as a backup to Joe Montana. Mr. Young played behind Montana from 1987 to 1990 but shined as a backup, throwing 23 touchdown passes and only six interceptions from 1987 to 1990. Montana missed the entire 1991 season with an elbow injury and Steve Young emerged as the starter. He led the league with a 101.8 passer rating but the Niners missed the playoffs for the first time since 1982. The following season, Young led the league in touchdowns for the first of three straight years and became the first quarterback ever to record a triple-digit rating in consecutive seasons while leading the Niners to a 14-2 record. He was named league MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and made the first of seven career Pro Bowl appearances.

San Francisco traded Joe Montana to Kansas City before the start of the 1993 season, making Steve Young the team’s undisputed starter, a position he would retain for the rest of his career. He responded by setting franchise records for most passing yards [4,023] and consecutive passes without an interception [189] but the 49ers lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC championship game for the second year in a row. In 1994, Young threw four touchdowns passes in four different games and led San Francisco to ten straight wins–by an average of 20 points per game–to finish 13-3. Young led San Francisco to the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl victory—and his first as starting quarterback—while throwing six touchdown passes [to break Montana’s record of five] and being named the game’s MVP. He set several franchise, league and Super Bowl records in route to becoming the sixth player in history to win both league and Super Bowl MVP honors in the same season. In the three years following that Super Bowl victory, the Niners were eliminated from the playoffs each year by the Green Bay Packers. Young led the NFL in passer rating in 1996 and 1997 and led the league in touchdowns for a fourth time in 1998. He suffered his fourth concussion in three years [and seventh of his career] in a Monday Night Game against the Arizona Cardinals and opted to retire at 38 years old.

Steve Young played 15 NFL seasons and led the league in passing six times, one of two players ever to do so. He threw for 232 touchdowns and over 33,000 yards while rushing for 4,239 yards and 43 scores. Mr. Young holds 14 NFL records and eleven 49ers records. The 6’3”, 215 pounder was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001, 49ers Hall of Fame in 2009 and is the only left handed quarterback in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2005. Mr. Young earned a law degree from BYU in 1994 and turned down a role in the film, “There’s Something About Mary”, because it was “too coarse.” The part went to Brett Favre. Steve Young took his last USFL snap in 1985. He was paid $1 million in 2014 from his USFL contract, which spread $ 36 million over 43 years, and will continue to be paid through 2027, when he is 65 years old.