Steve Young, a descendant of Mormon leader Brigham Young, is a Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback who played for the San Francisco 49ers for 13 years. He won three Super Bowl appearances, including Super Bowl XXIX, and was named Most Valuable Player. Young attended Brigham Young University and played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being traded to the 49ers as a backup to Joe Montana. After Montana’s injuries, Young became the starting quarterback and led the team to the playoffs. He retired in 1999 with an astounding career passing rating and now works as a sports analyst for ESPN.
Steve Young, a descendant (great-great-grandson) of Mormon leader Brigham Young, is an award-winning quarterback and arguably one of the best to ever play football. His superior athleticism earned him a 2005 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his thirteen years as quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers have certainly earned him a place of honor in the hearts of many 49ers fans. His success as a quarterback, especially with the overall strength of the 49er team from 1987 to 1999, led him to three Super Bowl appearances. Of these he won the first he played as a starting quarterback, Super Bowl XXIX and was named Most Valuable Player.
Born in Utah in 1961, Steve Young and his family moved to Connecticut in his youth. Young had impressive performances at Greenwich High School, academically and athletically. He became the starting quarterback in his junior year and was also co-captain of the basketball and baseball teams. He graduated high school with a 4.0 in addition to his outstanding participation in sports and his strong commitment to the Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). He attended religion classes every morning before school and athletic practice.
It seemed natural for Steve Young to attend Brigham Young University, even though his athleticism certainly meant that other colleges sought him out. His work at BYU was so impressive that he even earned a place in the College Football Hall of Fame. After college, Young signed with the new United States Football League in 1984. Unfortunately, the league was doomed to failure and he only played two seasons.
The National Football League (NFL) side Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up Young in 1985, but the team had a horrible season, winning only two of their sixteen games. Young’s performance didn’t help. He only had a 55% pass completion record and his interception-to-touchdown ratio was 2-1. He was traded in 1987 to the San Francisco 49ers to serve as backup to quarterback Joe Montana, and it looked like his career might be quiet.
Montana’s injuries in 1987 and 1988 meant that Steve Young had the opportunity to take over at quarterback, and when he got the opportunity to play, he used it well. In 1987, Young led the team to a 41-zip victory over the Chicago Bears, and proved equally useful in a 1988 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Another injury to Montana in 1990 made Young the default starting quarterback for the entire 1991 season. Although he got off to a rocky start, he finished the season with a career-high passing mark. Yet there were still questions about his ability to start and lead the team, especially since his backup Steve Bono had done so well in his first five games.
Young even came close to being traded in 1992, as it was thought that Montana might be good enough to start over. However, recovery was slow for Montana, and Young became the starting quarterback, leading the 49ers to the playoffs. Montana was traded, in a move many 49er fans truly despised, to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993, leaving Young as the starter. In 1995, Young lived up to his early promise, leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl and winning.
While Steve Young has set other records, many consider 1995 to be his most successful year. The 49ers did not get to another Super Bowl under Young’s leadership, and in 1999 Young retired. However, while his final years at the 49ers weren’t winning years, his record as a quarterback is astounding. His career passing rating is still the highest ever, although Peyton Manning could catch it eventually and his 64.3% career pass completion percentage is third highest. He is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play, even though people debate where he should be ranked.
After retirement, Steve Young completed his JD degree, served as a spokesperson for Toyota®, and now works as a sports analyst for ESPN. He married in 2000 and has three children with his wife, Barbara Graham.