Friday, August 05, 2005

Steve Young is going into the Hall of Fame. And rightfully so. Many of the so-called 49er faithful hated Young when he arrived, feeling that he was an upstart, intent on usurping the throne of King Joe. Well, as it turned out, he was. I’m just amazed that so many people were shortsighted enough to dislike him for that attitude. Hey, unless you’re here for the first time, you know that I’m a Joe Montana worshipper. Hell, my son’s middle name is Joseph. I will be forever frustrated that my son was born on June 12th and not June 11th (Joe’s birthday).

But I never resented Steve Young. I understood his drive to be the Man, his compulsion to show everyone how good he was, his frustration at being stuck behind the greatest quarterback in history. Geez, don’t you WANT that type of competitive fire in your backup quarterback? After all, the 49ers had a long history of mediocre backup QBs behind Montana. From Guy Benjamin to Matt Cavanaugh to Jeff Kemp… all competent QBs who couldn’t carry Montana’s jock, but shined in short relief stints (and promptly sucked for every other team they joined).

Suddenly, they had a very good backup, one that could’ve started for 90% of the other teams in the league. And he wasn’t happy that he couldn’t play. Of course, Montana cooperated by getting injured more and more, which served to frustrate Young even more. Because each time he played, he got better… and the 49ers kept winning. He seemed to disagree with the unwritten rule that a starter can’t lose his job due to an injury. He wanted to be the starter, his ambition possibly blinding him to the futility.

Eventually, he got his chance. And he likely would’ve started in the Super Bowl that would’ve been the culmination of the three-peat due to Montana getting his spine rearranged by the Giants. Roger Craig fucked that up by fumbling the game away. So he waited until his ascendancy intersected Montana’s gradual decline and promptly ran headlong into a three-headed Cowboy dynasty. He overcame that obstacle ONCE and immediately ran into the Brett Favre era. So he helmed the 1st or 2nd best team in football for something like seven or eight years after apprenticing for four or five. He is one of the ten best quarterbacks ever (ignore the rating system that overrates modern QBs), probably around 7 or 8, and never seemed to get respect in his own town. “Not as good as Joe” or “Can’t beat Aikman or Favre”… It went on and on. Until now.

Props to you, Steve.


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