Steve Young was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend as many members of the media bent over backwards in praise of the former 49ers star. Most talked about his dedication and willingness to learn his trade behind Joe Montana. Young himself even praised the 49ers legend in his speech.
But was it the truth? Was Young really the good guy everybody has made him out to be? According to Charles Haley in his autobiography, All the Rage, Young is not the hard-working teammate that everybody has made him out to be this weekend.
Young comes off as a bad guy in the chapter, "Why Steve Young couldn't carry Joe Montana's jock:"
I understand what Steve was going through. He'd been the man wherever he was. He'd always been the star. And all of a sudden he was standing on the sidelines, charting plays. Maybe he had felt the frustration of being lied to... or misled... or whatever. But that's the way it goes. You just keeping working, doing your job. You have to earn playing time. You don't bad-mouth the guy in front of you—especially when that guy is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. But that's what Steve did. He was always moping around the locker room, bad-mouthing Joe, stabbing him in the back. I never appreciated that at all, and neither did anybody else. The last couple of years I was there the press tried to make it seem like there was a quarterback controversy: half the guys supporting Joe and half supporting Steve. But it wasn't like that at all. Everybody backed Joe. He had taken us there so many times. Even when his body tried to stop him from playing, Joe would go out there. He was a warrior, man, and everybody respected him for that. He had a good heart, too. He'd help anybody... even the guy who was trying to take his job.
Steve couldn't see any of that. He was such a whiner. The coaches would pacify him by letting him take half the snaps during practice—which, believe me is un-[expletive]-heard of in the NFL; the starter usually gets 95 percent of the snaps—but even that wasn't enough for Steve.
What an ingrate.
It is fair to say that Young would not have been accepting his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he had spent the rest of his career with the Buccaneers--a franchise that did not post a winning season from 1981-1997. Judging from Young's numbers during his first two seasons (21 interceptions, 11 touchdowns), he might not have played until that first winning season under Tony Dungy. Young was destined to be the next Steve DeBerg or Steve Bartkowski before he was rescued in San Francisco. Young then tried to stab Montana in the back to show his appreciation.
How come we did not hear about that this weekend?
YOUNG, HALL OF FAME MATERIAL?
It is ironic that Joe Montana ended up putting Young in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Boomer Esiason might have been considered the best left-handed quarterback of all-time if Montana had not rescued the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII.
But that is Young, always in the right place at the right time. Just look at his $40 million contract from the USFL.
Young had the good fortune of putting up good regular season numbers against NFL powerhouses like the Falcons, Saints, and the Los Angeles Rams during Georgia Frontiere's final "Major League" days of the franchise. Much like Peyton Manning today, his dominant regular season numbers did not translate to post season success.
Maybe that is why his teammates did not want him to start.
Young and the 49ers gagged in both the 1992 and 1993 NFC Championship Games. Young would eventually win Super Bowl XXIX thanks in part to a coach's firing (Jimmy Johnson was let go by Dallas), the Cowboys 21-point self destruction in the first five minutes of the 1994 NFC Championship Game, Barry Switzer, Deion Sanders, and playing the most overmatched AFC representative during the NFC's dominance (it hurts to say that).
Young, however, did get his ring. Had Young not won the big game, it would have been easy to label him as the 49ers version of Danny White and keep him out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Once again, though, Young was in the right place at the right time.