Steve Young, NFL Hall of Famer
Interesting venue. At the banquet before they retired his jersey at LaVell Edwards stadium a year or so ago, Steve told about when he as a frightened BYU freshman, away from home for the very first time. He was invited to go water skiing with a family and asked them if they'd pick him up at the Smith Fieldhouse.
He was hiding in the bushes when they drove up, boat in tow. He hid more, until they left without him.
He told that story and said, "And tonight they're retiring my jersey at LaVell Edwards stadium." He said he had told that story to make the point that he was where he was because of the people in the banquet room that night who had become his family along the way and had helped him through his freshman fears and the tough times.
Steve's jersey number was 8. That's where he says he started out on the BYU depth chart. According to all of his teammates who spoke that night, he wasn't a great quarterback when he came to BYU. He was a poor passer. According to center Bart Oates, his Cougar and 49er teammate, the poorest passer of all the QBs when Steve joined the team.
He was discouraged and called his dad to tell him he was thinking of quitting the team and coming home. His dad (corporate lawyer, nicknamed "Grit") told Steve he could quit, but he couldn't come home because "we don't have any quitters here."
Steve stuck it out, worked amazingly hard to learn how to pass a football from watching starting QB Jim McMahon, became the starter himself and went on to have the highest completion percentage in NCAA history his senior season (70%), and to become Super Bowl MVP, throwing a record number of touchdowns in the Super Bowl (6) as well as leading the 49ers in rushing in the game. And he has the highest passing efficiency rating of any quarterback in NFL history. (See his Hall of Fame press packet here).
He faced his fears, worked incredibly hard, and achieved remarkable things on the field -- and off. And BYU will celebrate his NFL Hall of Fame induction where? Full circle back to his freshman year -- at the Smith Fieldhouse. And Steve's chosen his dad, "Grit" Young, to introduce him at the Canton, Ohio Hall of Fame induction next weekend.
Steve Young didn't quit. Hall of Fame quarterback. Husband. And father of two Young sons.
One more personal story: I know Steve because he's a friend of my parents. We went out to dinner together one evening, and Steve and I went to the restroom while my parents went to our table. As we were walking out, and on the way to our table, Steve was stopped four times by people who called him by his first name (as though he knew them), and asked for autographs and pictures. Several people also came to our table as we ate to talk with him. He graciously obliged them all. After a while, my dad asked Steve if he didn't ever get tired of so much attention wherever he went. Steve responded, "Truman, I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for these people."
One more: Steve had been in our home, and as he was leaving, I remembered that I'd promised a law clerk that I would get her (amazing female football fan) his autograph. I ran back to his car just as he was pulling away and asked him if he'd mind signing an autograph for a law clerk in my office. He asked me about her. I told him she had just passed the bar exam. He wrote, "To --, Congratulations for doing something I never have. Steve Young."
I don't know him well, but I know him well enough to know Steve Young is a gracious and good man. Congrats on coming out of the Fieldhouse bushes to make it to the Hall of Fame!