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 Tuesday, June 13
Young calls it a career
 Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Steve Young retired from football Monday, saying his goodbye in the 49ers' locker room and leaving the game after repeated concussions made it too dangerous to play.

Thursday, June 8
What I will remember about Steve Young is that he was capable of enduring all the hardships early in his career, first in Tampa Bay and then having to spend time behind Joe Montana in San Francisco.

He was able to endure that and then overcome some of the stigmas he had as a pure athlete playing the position. With the help of Bill Walsh and the 49er organization, Young molded himself into the most accurate passer in NFL history.

There's no doubt he will end up in the Hall of Fame. And even though he had to play under the standards that Montana set, that's a legacy he will have to live with. But that does nothing to diminish his accomplishments as a great quarterback who won a Super Bowl after Montana left. Young holds his own place in football history.

"The fire still burns but not enough," he said.

The 38-year-old quarterback played with grit and heart during a 15-year career in which he succeeded Hall of Famer Joe Montana, won two MVP Awards and led San Francisco to a Super Bowl title in 1995.

Young, who last week told the team he was retiring, had requested that his retirement be announced in the same room where he prepared his battered body for one big game after another.

"I thought, where else?" he said. "This is the most intimate place for a football player. ... This is where football happens away from the crowd. This is where I show up for work. I wanted to show up one more day."

Standing before a large banner emblazoned with the 49ers' red-and-gold helmet, Young was at ease, often laughing and cracking jokes. But at least once, he fought back tears as he discussed his life as a player and new role as a full-time father.

Guests at the announcement included former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, who turned control of the team over to his sister to help resolve a family feud, and Cleveland Browns president Carmen Policy, who left San Francisco after a falling out with DeBartolo.

"We love everything about you," 49ers coach Steve Mariucci told Young, "what you've done and who you are."

Young, who earned a law degree from BYU and is the great-great-great grandson of Mormon church leader Brigham Young, wants to focus on strengthening families in his new career. He has been mentioned for jobs in politics and broadcasting, perhaps even the opening in the "Monday Night Football" booth.

His wife, Barbara, and other members of Young's family attended the news conference, along with Denver coach Mike Shanahan, a former 49ers offensive coordinator who influenced Young's development.

Jerry Rice, who teamed with Young in one of the most successful quarterback-receiver partnerships, spoke of "great chemistry and a great relationship" with Young.

The 37-year-old receiver said he struggled over what to say because "I know the clock is ticking for me also."

Steve Young
Steve Young retires as the top-rated passer in NFL history.

Young's decision to reire followed months of agonized debate -- with himself and the 49ers organization. Given his history of concussions, no one wanted to risk a catastrophic injury.

The last blow came Sept. 27 in a game at Arizona, a frightening hit that left Young out cold for some 30 seconds with his sixth known concussion and fourth in three years. He endured postconcussion symptoms of nausea, dizziness, headaches and lethargy for weeks and missed the rest of the season.

Young's primary neurologist is believed to have told him last year to quit football rather than risk further head blows. But Young still yearned to play. He sought other medical advice and passed neurological tests showing he was clinically "normal."

The salary-cap stressed 49ers, fearing the potential for re-injury and wary of the payroll implications if they brought Young back, urged retirement. Young briefly considered going to Denver for one last shot at a Super Bowl run, but ultimately determined to finish as a 49er.

"I leave the game having played my best football," he said. "It just kind of settled on me that this was the right thing to do. And so I do it with a great deal of joy."

Changes in his personal life also influenced his decision. He got married March 14 to the former Barbara Graham and the couple is expecting a baby in late December.

"In many ways what lies ahead for me is more important than what I leave behind," he said.

Young leaves as the NFL's highest-rated passer and a six-time winner of the league's passing efficiency title. With Rice, he formed the most prolific touchdown-pass tandem in NFL history, combining for 85 scores.

Rice paused to regain his composure as he read a poem he wrote: "Sometimes we dream and dreams come true."

Colleagues called Young one of the top five quarterbacks in NFL history, and tight end Brent Jones pointed to the special circumstances.

"None of those other four, whoever they may be, followed a Hall of Famer," Jones said. "That, to me, is the single greatest accomplishment in sports."

Young's riveting finishes included the Jan. 3, 1999 playoff game when he hooked up with Terrell Owens on a last-second 25-yard touchdown pass to beat Green Bay.

Equally dangerous as a runner, the seven-time Pro Bowler rushed for an NFL-record 43 touchdowns, including a remarkable 49-yard scramble in 1988 against Minnesota that endures as one of the great broken-field runs.

He threw for a record six touchdowns in San Francisco's 49-26 Super Bowl win over San Diego in January 1995, earning an MVP award for that performance.

Young said he will miss the team he had played with for nearly half a lifetime.

"I loved playing Dallas. I loved playing Green Bay," he said. "I loved the expectation that every year we were going to the Super Bowl."

Young thanked his family, coaches, agent, teammates and fans.

"My dad's an old football player," he said. "If you asked my dad right now and he was truly honest, he'd tell me to walk over to the locker, put the pads on and go out there and be a man."

But Young said he now wants to concentrate on family _ and not just his own. He will continue working with the Forever Young Foundation, which deals with children's issues.

"In some ways starting a family right now made it all the harder because, as I've said, I always wanted my family to see me play," he said.

But Young, his timing flawless as always, said this was the moment to go.


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