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This Day In Sports: Steve Young calls it a career

2000: Steve Young hangs up his cleats after paying a physical price for running with abandon —successfully — as San Francisco’s quarterback.
Credit: AP File Photo
Steve Young and Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers celebrate after hooking up on one of Young’s six touchdown passes against San Diego in Super Bowl XXIX, Jan. 29, 1995.

BOISE, Idaho — THIS DAY IN SPORTS…June 13, 2000:

Steve Young announces his retirement from the San Francisco 49ers. Young successfully emerged from the longest shadow imaginable — that of four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Joe Montana — to become the highest-rated passer in NFL history when he finished his career. Young won one Super Bowl as a starting QB and two as Montana’s backup, and he yearned for another. But two concussions early in the 1999 season, spelled the end for the former BYU star and future Hall Of Famer.

It was quite a journey for the 6-2 lefthander. Young came to BYU known for his running and not his passing. In fact, the Cougars coaching staff considered switching him to defensive back at one point. But Young’s throwing evolved to the point that he was able to succeed Jim McMahon as BYU’s starting quarterback. As a senior, he led the Cougars to an 11-1 record while completing 71.4 percent of his passes, then an NCAA record. Young was runner-up for the 1983 Heisman Trophy.

Young began his pro career in the USFL with the L.A. Express in 1984 and 1985 after signing a 10-year, $40 million contract with the club. He agreed to take payments on the deal over a period of 40 years. But the league disintegrated quickly in his second season, and he was finally able to make the move to the NFL (he eventually settled on the USFL contract). Young landed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

His first two NFL seasons with Tampa Bay gave little indication of his future success, as the woeful Bucs finished 2-14 each year. Forty-Niners coach Bill Walsh liked what he saw, though, and traded for Young in 1987. Thus began a four-year apprenticeship behind Montana that included two Super Bowl rings. The duo professed to be friends, but they were fierce competitors in practice. After an elbow injury in the 1990 NFC Championship Game, Montana missed the entire 1991 season and most of 1992, and the 49ers’ Young era began. Its high point was the win over San Diego in Super Bowl XXIX that included six Young TD passes.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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