Summarized by Kent Larsen
Steve Young's Football Fate May Be Decided Tomorrow
USA Today 30May00 S2
By Richard Weiner, USA TODAY
PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA -- The career of LDS football star Steve Young may be
decided tomorrow as the San Francisco 49ers and Young decide whether they
will release the veteran star, have him play and restructure his contract,
or place him on a reserve/retired list. Young is due a bonus on June 3rd,
but the team must make a decision by June 1st to avoid having his
substantial salary hit their salary cap, according to the
The decision is a complex and difficult one, given Young's history with the
team and stated desire to remain a 49er during his career. However, the
49ers are rebuilding this year, after going a disastrous 4-12 last season,
during which Young suffered a concussion in the third game that put him out
for the rest of the season.
Following the concussion, the 49ers, because of the salary cap issues, asked
Young to delay any decision about his future until June, "(The 49ers) really
wanted me, whatever we decided , not to do it before June," Young says. "And
I said, 'Shoot, I'm getting married. I can do that.' " Young says he
normally re-evaluates his career each February, "I made a deal with myself
years ago. I came off my rookie year (with Tampa Bay in 1985-86) and said,
'Is this what I want to do the rest of my career?' I wasn't really sure. I
really wanted to plan for the end, right at the beginning. So every
February, I go through the process: 'Am I going to put everything I have,
emotionally, physically, and put it out there and go play again?' And I've
been doing that for 16 years." But the 49ers request has delayed everything
this year, "So, I'm in May, and, really, that's February to me."
His decision is more complex than it seems because of his recent marriage.
In 1997, Young told Sports Illustrated that he didn't want to retire until
he was married with children -- even if his child was an infant and couldn't
remember being at a game. And Youn seems very close to reaching that goal.
On returning from their honeymoon, the Young's announced to friends that
Barbara was expecting.
Reminded of the quote in his interview with USA Today last week, Young said,
"That was a dream, and it seems to becoming a reality, where it's a
possibility. I can't believe I'm in a situation where, after all these
years, I'll have a family. The thought of it is really cool."
But Young's decision also depends on his evaluation of his health. The
concussion he suffered last season frightened many at the 49ers as Young
suffered post-concussion syndrome, which includes symptoms of nausea,
dizziness and slurring of words. Most of his teammates expected him to
retire after the event.
His then-fiancee Barbara and her family were in the stands at the time of
his concussion, and watched him get sandwiched and knocked unconscious. "It
was like, 'Welcome to the league,' " Young says. But while Young says that
he has been cleared to play, the concussion is still a factor in his
decision, "For me, it was a sobering event," Young says. "I really wanted to
become educated and understand it the best I could. The truth is, there is
some mystery to it. What we do know, if you do get hurt, you need to heal.
There have been studies it takes four months to completely heal. We do know
it is not good to get a lot of them. You just have to use your judgment. If,
clinically, you do have a problem -- which I think more guys have than they
realize -- then you have to be much more sober. But I'm grateful in making
this decision knowing that, clinically, everything is wonderful."
USA Today also says that Young is known to not adjust well to new
situations, and asked Young if that would be a factor in his decision, since
moving to another team would require an adjustment, on top of adjusting to a
marriage and a baby on the way. But Young observed that retiring would be
just as big of an adjustment.
Friends and mentors have also weighed in on the decision. Hall-of-fame
quarterback Roger Staubach, a mentor to Young, says he should retire with
his health intact, "You can't get any better than Steve Young," he says. "He
ought to retire."
Should he do so, Young still has a lot of options. With his law degree, he
could start practicing law. He has also done some football commentary, and
could become an analyst on ABC's Monday Night Football. Young also has
several new start-up business opportunities that he could spend his time on.
And Young himself realizes that he may have to face a different future than
what he wants, "The most important thing is that you mature, too, and that
you realize the perfect ending might not be storybook," he says. "It might
actually be other than what you expected."