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Steve Young Biography

Steve Young Biography

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Steve Young had a heck of a career in the NFL, especially considering that he didn’t hit his stride as a full-time starter until he was in his 30’s. When it was all said and done, Young was a 7-time Pro Bowler, a 2-time MVP, and a Super Bowl champion. Young was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Young first achieved excellence in high school, where he shined in football, basketball, and baseball. A supreme athletic force, Young enrolled at BYU, where he would succeed another future NFL quarterback, Jim McMahon. Young made national news with his 1983 campaign, when he led the Cougars to an 11-1 record. He threw for nearly 4000 yards and 33 touchdowns, while also dazzling with his feet, which would later become a his trademark. He finished second in the Heisman voting and established himself as a pro prospect.

In 1984, an upstart league, the USFL, was challenging the NFL and threw big money at players in an effort to bolster the status of their league. Young accepted a 40 million dollar contract and went to play for the Express. He fared well, but by his second season, the league had begun to unravel. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Young and his NFL career was off and running. Sort of.

Tampa Bay would later achieve success and even win a Super Bowl, but in the mid-80’s, they were a god-awful franchise, long mired in a losing pattern. In 1985 and 1986, they finished 2-14 in both seasons. It would prove difficult for Young to showcase his talent and he was considered to be a flop. After Tampa drafted Vinny Testaverde, Young was considered expendable. Bill Walsh saw something in Young and he was signed to the 49ers.

Going to the 49ers, already an established winner, was a double-edged sword. Young was now with a successful franchise with coaches known for developing offensive talent. Then again, he was the back-up to Joe Montana--considered by many the greatest quarterback of all-time. Young was effective when he played, but the years started sailing by and he was still riding pine for the most part. He started 10 games in his first 4 seasons in San Francisco.


When he got his chance, things didn’t go according to plan. Already 30, Young took over for an injured Montana in the 1991 season. He only had the 49ers at .500 when he also went down with an injury. Backup Steve Bono did well in Young’s absence and remained the starter even after Young recuperated. Young salvaged the season after Bono went down and helped the 49ers finish strongly.

In 1992, the position was up for grabs between Bono and Young, with Montana still looming in the picture. Young got the nod and despite a rough start, compiled a 14-2 record as a starter, with 3456 passing yards and 537 more on the ground, while leading the league in touchdown throws. They made it to the NFC title game, but lost to the champion Dallas Cowboys, beginning a fierce NFC rivalry that would continue for the next few seasons.

In 1993, Young threw for over 4000 yards, again leading the league in touchdowns. He took the 49ers to the playoffs, but again, they ran into one of the best teams from the era in the Cowboys and failed to advance to the Super Bowl. 1994 would go better. Young threw for a league-leading 35 touchdowns and ran for 7 more, while the Niners went 13-3. They again faced the Cowboys in the NFC title game, this time winning 38-28. In Super Bowl XXIX, they faced the Chargers and in one of the more lopsided Bowls of all-time, won 49-26. As Super Bowl MVP, Young threw for 325 yards, breaking the Super Bowl record with 6 touchdown passes. He had finally climbed out from under the shadow of Montana and established his own NFL legacy.

Injuries and steep competition from the Packers in the NFC kept the 49ers out of the Super Bowl for the duration of Young’s career, but to say he faded slowly into the sunset would be incorrect. In Young’s last 5 seasons, he was 42-14 as a starter as he continued putting up big numbers. Concussions started adding up to an alarming degree. He retired at age 38. Young, despite not getting a chance to start full-time until late in his career, still compiled 33124 yards in the air for 232 touchdowns, adding 4239 yards on the ground with 43 touchdowns. He will be remembered as one of the better quarterbacks of his time and one of the more versatile and diverse field generals in league history.

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