Hall recall: Steve Young

Hall recall: Steve Young

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By Gil Brandt, NFL.com Senior Analyst
Special to Profootballhof.com

The Hall of Fame induction on Aug. 7 will be nothing new for former Buccaneers and 49ers quarterback Steve Young. He's already had one of those.

Steve YoungBack in December of 2001, Young was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame following a career at Brigham Young University that ranks as one of the finest in NCAA history. When he was done, Young, at the time, ranked second in Division I-A history with a 149.8 quarterback rating, only being surpassed by his predecessor at BYU, Jim McMahon. In fact, until Florida's Danny Wuerffel and San Diego State's Billy Blanton ended their careers in 1996 with higher ratings, the top four marks in the NCAA annals all belonged to BYU Cougars. That same year, BYU's Steve Sarkisian finished up with a 157.1 career rating, placing him behind Wuerffel and McMahon at the top of the list.

It is more than just the system that brought Young to Salt Lake City. Young's great, great, great grandfather was Brigham Young, the school's founder! But Young didn't get any special treatment. He spent two years on the bench behind McMahon, who eventually led the Chicago Bears to a victory in Super Bowl XX, before throwing for 7,733 yards and 56 touchdowns in basically two full years.

After graduating with a degree in International Relations and being rewarded by the NCAA with a Top V Award and postgraduate scholarship in 1984, Young went on to play professional football … in the United States Football League. Torn apart by a decision to be a star in the fledgling league or tempt fate in the NFL, Young decided to sign with the Los Angeles Express. After two years in the USFL, the league ceased operations and Young became a member of the 1-10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He was traded to San Francisco after his second year with the Bucs for second- and fourth-round draft choices. And the rest is history.

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Notes from an actual scouting report Gil Brandt wrote on Young for Dallas in December of 1983:

Young is 6-0½, 205 pounds, and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.55. Young can beat you with his arm, brain or feet. He can throw the out route or the bomb. Makes very good decisions, but loves to take off and run. Completed over 65 percent of his passes with the Cougars. Best completion percentage of any QB to date at BYU. He was a two-year starter and played behind Jim McMahon in 1980-81. He was skittery … may be the best word describe him. Need to settle him down to keep him from getting hurt in the NFL. He drifts at times, making it hard for pass protectors. Should have no problem correcting this in the NFL. Should be a starting quarterback and should get a team into the playoffs.
"Being the multi-great grandson of Brigham Young, it didn't take long for people to start requesting Steve to speak. Throughout his four years as a Cougar, he spoke at least four or five times a week, and was requested many more times than that. He was often late or double-booked, but he always did an outstanding job.

Young will be the third person ever to have his jersey retired by the BYU football program, and the first in about 40 years. But his accomplishments go beyond the field. Not only did Young receive a law degree in 1994, but he spends countless hours with charities and speaking engagements. And this goes back to his collegiate days. Young has always been one to offer his services for the greater good.

We really wanted him

I remember Young's departure from college for a very significant reason. Not only did the Cowboys and myself have our eyes on Young as a possible draft pick, but it was the process in which I tried to persuade the Young family to have Steve enter the NFL draft and not go to the USFL.

When I got wind that Young was going to sign a record contract with the L.A. Express, I placed a phone call to his Greenwich, Conn., house. Young's father, LeGrand, was traveling at the time. And after hours of searching across the country, literally, I got ahold of LeGrand at the United Airlines Red Carpet Room in the Denver airport. The phone call wasn't enough to keep Young out of the USFL, but that's what the BYU grad meant to me and the NFL.

Finding Mr. Young was harder than finding the keys to Ft. Knox.

Several years ago I was at the Walter Camp All-America ceremony in New Haven (Conn.), and Steve and his mom and dad were there. His parents were celebrating their 40-year wedding anniversary that night. LeGrand still couldn't get over how I found him that day back in 1984.

A view from the inside

Go into the head coach's office at BYU and you will find Shirley Johnson, a fixture of the football program. Johnson has been the secretary there for the past 28 years and knows everything there is to know about the Cougars. She started working there just before Young came in as a freshman. Johnson had some fond memories of one of her favorite players:

"As much as he is accomplished, as confident as he appears, as smart and talented and successful as he is, he still questions himself. He always claims he was the eighth-string quarterback when he got here. I'll never forget the day he decided to go to the USFL. He came in and just bawled. He always wants to do the right thing, the proper thing, the good thing.

"One day I wore a red, white and blue dress, and Steve and another player stood on the sidewalk outside my office and sang the Star Spangled Banner at the top of their lungs, all while saluting me. If you've heard Steve sing, you'll know why it was doubly embarrassing.

"I'm so happy for this honor he is receiving. After watching him suffer through the USFL, run for his life in Tampa Bay, and stand on the sideline for years watching Joe Montana, I saw him take the reins with the 49ers and just enjoy himself. The look on his face after they won the Super Bowl was pure joy."

Now it's time for a few items about Steve Young that you may or may not have known.

Steve Young and Sammy Baugh are the only quarterbacks to win six NFL passing titles.
Younvg is the first left-handed quarterback to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Young holds the NFL record for most consecutive 300-yard games with six back in 1998.
Young's career quarterback rating is 96.8 and he's the only player in the league to have a QB rating of more than 100.0 in a single season six times.
Not just a football player, Young has written a children's book entitled Forever Young.
Young went on a family vacation to Canton, Ohio, and the Hall of Fame when he was 12 years old.
His hero was Roger Staubach.
At Young's wedding, there were less than 100 people in attendance. He has about 550 people coming for his enshrinement.

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