Thanks for the memories," penned by many last month when comedian Bob Hope died, is a phrase we could echo of our living legend Steve Young.
Young is being honored tonight as his jersey No. 8 is retired. Two BYU football numbers have previously been retired, (Eldon "The Phantom" Fortie [1960-62], who wore No. 40; and Marion Probert [1951-54], who wore No. 81). Young will become the first BYU football player to have his jersey retired.
When Steve Young started at BYU as a lowly freshman in 1980, he wore No. 10 on the junior varsity roster and No. 6 as a benchwarmer in the Holiday Bowl, since senior defensive back Dave Francis was wearing No. 8.
At that 1980 "Miracle Bowl" Young was buried on the quarterback depth chart behind junior Jim McMahon, Royce Bybee, Mike Jones, Eric Krzmarzick, Gym Kimball, and Mark Haugo. The latter four ended up transferring at different parts of the season to places like Cal-Lutheran, Florida and Utah State.
Ironically, BYU went undefeated and won the national championship the year after Young finished his eligibility, but many feel the 1983 team led by Young was one of the best in Cougar history.
He redefined the heralded quarterback position with his swiveling rushing skills paired with his deft left arm. North Carolina was among the schools trying to recruit him out of Connecticut, but he followed the footsteps of his fullback father, LeGrande "Grit" Young to Provo. Grit was a native of Provo and wore number 36 in 1958-59 at BYU.
Steve's running skills were utilized in a surprise wishbone attack by then BYU Junior Varsity Coach Lance Reynolds to claim a victory over UNLV's jayvee.
"He could really run the option," says Reynolds, BYU's assistant head coach, today of Young. "With the kind of scheme we run now he would be devastating."
Young was rumored to be moved to defensive back, but then Ted Tollner replaced Doug Scovil as BYU quarterback coach and the lefty was given new life as he ascended to the top of the depth chart. By 1981 he was the top reserve, opening eyes of many at Boulder, Colo., when he subbed for McMahon. Midway through the third quarter, Young dazzled the Colorado crowd with 61 yards of rushing offense and 63 yards passing for a pair of TD's in a 41-20 victory.
By 1982 Young was the starting quarterback, but one league official commented during the pre-season, "it looks like BYU has come to the end of its string of great quarterbacks." The Western Athletic Conference was asked to rally around Air Force's Marty "The Magician" Louthan in a quest to unite behind a consensus athlete for national recognition.
Tub-thumpers at BYU thought differently and spurned the league plea as the Cougars touted Young. Young got off to a rusty start, throwing five interceptions in the first half at Georgia.
By the end of 1982, eyes were on Young as BYU was paired with Ohio State in the Holiday Bowl. Young, who was forced to retire from a sterling career in the NFL due to concussions, sustained a vicious hit on the second-to-last play of that bowl by left tackle Dave Crecelius. But he had earned the respect of many.
In 1983, he caused an unexpected announcement in Church General Priesthood Meeting because earlier that day BYU had upset UCLA in the Rose Bowl, 37-35. A year later Young was mentioned in General Priesthood Meeting when Coach LaVell Edwards spoke of his determination.
"...those who have succeeded have also had the ability to overcome adversity, disappointment, and even tragedy in their lives," Edwards told his Church audience. "Since our quarterback position has such a high visibility and everyone seems to know about them, let me share two short stories with you.
"Steve Young is one of the most gifted young men that I have ever known. He is fast, strong, big, handsome, ... and rich. It is easy for us to look at Steve and say, 'With all those attributes, you ought to be great.' However, it is more than his physical attributes that have made him great; it is the way he thinks! When Steve was a junior and was starting his first season as our quarterback, we had one of the greatest opportunities presented to us in our football program at BYU. We were scheduled to play Herschel Walker and the University of Georgia, the defending national champions. We worked very hard and felt we had a chance to beat them if we played our very best and did not make mistakes.
"Before 82,000 fans, and on a 'rainy day in Georgia,' Steve threw five interceptions in the first half of the game--more than he would normally throw in five games! In spite of the interceptions and two missed field goal attempts, we were still tied 7-7 at halftime.
"Going into the dressing room, I thought to myself that I must talk to Steve and assure him that everything would be fine. The rain, the crowd, the tipped balls, etc.--I had all the excuses ready for throwing five interceptions in one half. I started explaining this to Steve and before I could finish, Steve stopped me, looked at me as if I was crazy, and said, 'Hey coach, there's no problem. I can hardly wait to get back out there. We're going to win.' I found myself thinking, 'What do you mean there's no problem, you dummy. You have just thrown five interceptions!' It's the way he thinks. That's what has made him what he is and enabled him to accomplish what he has done. As you know, this was just the start of a career that would see him become one of the finest quarterbacks to play the game of college football."
Later in the 1983 season during the first quarter of the Utah State game in Provo, Young was dinged and lost his memory, prompting a touchdown drive by his backup, Robbie Bosco. Young did return midway through the second quarter of that USU game and led the Cougars to a comeback 38-34 victory.
Concussions and consciousness have been a part of Young's football career, dating back to his days as a youngster as chronicled in Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan. In that book the story is told of how Steve's mother Sherry came out on the field and scolded the opposing gridder to not tackle by the neck as Steve's father attended to their son breathless on the ground.
Sherry gave birth to sons Steve and Mike on the same date a couple years apart. Both sons ended up being quarterbacks for BYU and shared that same October 11 birthdate with Cougar head coach LaVell Edwards.
At BYU Steve chummed around with Herm and L.J., better known as defensive lineman Jim Herrmann and punter/kicker Lee Johnson, taking rides in the old family automobile dubbed the Tuna Boat. They would be among the select few to help Young celebrate his wedding in the summer of 2000 to Barbara Graham on the island of Hawai`i.
Among the NCAA records he set are two impressive ones as a senior: 1) 22 consecutive passes completed in a season (the last eight against USU and the first 14 vs. Wyoming) and 2) 18 consecutive passes completed in one game against the Air Force Academy.
The Young to Gordon Hudson passer-receiver combination was lethal as both achieved All-America fame at BYU. Yet the pass completion in the 1983 Holiday Bowl by halfback Eddie Stinnett to Steve for a victory over Missouri might be the solitary Young play best remembered by Cougar fans.
Young learned from some of the best offensive minds in the history of the game, coaches like Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers and Sid Gillman of the LA Express.
It only seems fitting that Young have his jersey retired at BYU for all that he has accomplished.
Young's National Collegiate Honors:
Â• 2003 Verizon Academic All-America Hall of Fame
Â• 2001 National Football Foundation Hall of Fame
Â• 1983 Davey O'Brien Award
Â• 1983 Football Coaches (Kodak) All-American
Â• 1983 Football Writers All-American
Â• 1983 Walter Camp All-American
Â• 1983 Associated Press All-American
Â• 1983 United Press International All-American
Â• 1983 ESPN All-American
Â• 1983 Football News All-American
Â• 1983 Gannett News Service All-American
Â• 1983 Hula Bowl Participant
Â• 1983 Japan Bowl Participant
Â• 1983 College & Pro Football Weekly Player of Week vs. Bowling Green
Â• 1983 ESPN Amateur Athlete of the Week vs. UCLA
Â• 1983 Athlon Player of the Week vs. New Mexico
Â• Second in 1983 Heisman voting
Â• 1983 Gold Helmet Award, Seattle
Â• 1982 Associated Press honorable mention All-America
Â• 1982 Chevrolet Player of Game vs. Nevada-Las Vegas
Â• 1982 Chevrolet Player of Game vs. San Diego State
Â• Set 13 NCAA Records, 4 total offense, 9 passing
Young's Conference Collegiate Honors:
Â• 1983 WAC Offensive Player of the Year
Â• 1983 All-Western Athletic Conference
Â• 1983 WAC Player of the Week vs. Bowling Green
Â• 1983 WAC Player of the Week vs. Air Force Academy
Â• 1982 WAC Offensive Player of the Year
Â• 1982 All-Western Athletic Conference
Â• Set 7 WAC Records
Young's University Athletic Honors:
Â• 2003 Jersey No. 8 Retired
Â• Selected Outstanding BYU Offensive Back
Â• 1984 Dale Rex Award
Â• 1982 and 1983 Holiday Bowl Participant
Young's BYU Academic Honors:
Â• 1984 NCAA Top Five Award
Â• 1984 NCAA Post Graduate Scholar
Â• 1983 Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete
Â• 1982 CoSida District Seven Academic All-America
Â• Bachelor's international relations, December 1984
Â• BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School, 1994
Young's Post Collegiate Athletic Career:
Â• Studio analyst for ESPN's NFL Countdown
Â• San Francisco 49ers, 1987-2000
Â• Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1985-86
Â• Los Angeles Express 1984-85
Â• Highest-rated quarterback in NFL history
Â• Super Bowl XXIX Most Valuable Player
Â• 1994 NFL Most Valuable Player
Â• 1992 NFL Most Valuable Player
Â• 1992 NFL Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated, and The Sporting News
Â• 1992 Starter for NFC in the Pro Bowl
Â• Selected to participate in seven consecutive Pro Bowls
Â• Won four consecutive NFL passing titles
Â• 1992 Len Eshmont Award, most inspirational and courageous 49er
Â• 1992 NFC Offensive Player of October
Â• 1992 NFC offensive player of week vs. New Orleans
Â• 1991 NFL NFC Offensive Player of Week vs. Detroit
Â• 1991 USA Today NFC Offensive Player of Week vs. Detroit
Â• 1991 NFC Offensive Player of October
Â• 1988 NFC Offensive Player of Week vs. Minnesota
Young's Civic Service:
Â• Chairman of Volunteer Committee of 2002 Winter Olympics and Olympic escort for The United Kingdom
Â• Founded the Forever Young Charity Foundation
Â• Chairman of the Board for Found, Inc. Internet company
Â• Board member Foundry Networks
Â• Board member of American Indian Services
Â• Navajo Indian Scholarship Program
Â• Partner in University Technology Ventures
Â• Honorary Chairman for the Children's Miracle Network in San Francisco
Â• Member of the Dream Team for Children's Miracle Network Member of Parents of Children with Disabilities
Â• Host, Celebrity Ski Event for Handicapped SkiersÂ• Host, Celebrity Golf Tournament for Operation Smile
Â• Spokesman for Contra Costa Sheriff's Office Anti-Drug Campaign
Â• Participant in numerous charity activities throughout country
Â• Speaker at church, community and charity functions throughout the country.
Brigham's Great-Great-Great Grandson
Steve Young is a great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young. Brigham Young married Emily Dow Partridge and they had Emily Augusta Young, one of his 56 children from 27 wives.
Emily Augusta Young married Hyrum Bradley Clawson and they had Carlie Louine Clawson.
Carlie Louine Clawson married Seymour Bicknell Young Jr. and they had Scott Richmond Young.
Scott Richmond Young married Louise Leonard and they had LeGrande Young.
LeGrande Young married Sherry Ann Steed and they had Jon Steven Young.
-Information provided by the LDS Historical Department and published in the Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 2, 1981 and People magazine, Nov. 8, 1982.
BYU Players Who have worn No. 8
Player, Position Hometown At BYU
Dave Atkinson, DB Provo 1970-73
Shane Barlow, QB Golden, CO 1997
Matt Bellini, WR San Leandro, CA 1987-90
Matt Berry, QB Redmond, WA 2002-current
Alan Boardman, Punter Kanab 1993-96
Dave Chadwick, HB Payette, ID 1948-49,1952
Jason Dance, QB Las Vegas, NV 1992
Dave Francis, DB Salt Lake City 1978-80
Steve Lindsley, QB Salt Lake City 1985-86
John McCorquindale,QB Calgary, Canada 1974
Dalton Overstreet, QB Chandler, AZ 1954
Mike Rigell, WR Tacoma, WA 1998-2001
John VanDerWouden, WR Salt Lake City 1975-77
John Walsh, QB Torrance, CA 1991
Steve Young, QB Greenwich, CN 1981-83