Steve Young (In the Huddle with )

In the Huddle with


By Matt Christopher

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$6.99 CAD


ebook (Digital original)


ebook (Digital original) $4.99 $6.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 19, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Matt Christopher, the number one sports writer for kids, covers the childhood experiences, college careers, rookie years, and current professional standing of this outstanding athlete. It provides exciting play-by-play action of key games and insightful information on the people and events that enfluenced Young’s life. Photos show Young doing what he does best.



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First eBook Edition: December 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-09434-4

Chapter One

The Great-Great-Great-Grandson

San Francisco 49er quarterback Steve Young is one of the best pro football players ever. When Young touches the ball, something exciting usually happens. He might drop straight back and pass the ball deep downfield to an open receiver. Or he might scramble around the pocket, then flip the ball to a running back a split second before being sacked. Or he just might fake a pass, stick the ball under his arm, and run downfield like a running back, dodging some tacklers and barreling over others. Whatever he does, the result is usually the same. The 49ers win!

But if you had to pick one word to describe Steve Young, the person, you probably wouldn't use the word exciting. For while he is certainly one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the NFL, football is only a part of his life. Off the field he is quiet and mild-mannered. He lives quietly, plays the piano, and gives generously of his time to a number of charities. In the off-season, he went back to college and became a lawyer.

Perhaps the best word to describe Steve Young, person and quarterback, is patient. Young was no overnight sensation. He played football a very, very long time before becoming one of the most exciting players in the history of the National Football League. At every stage of Steve Young's career, from high school and college to professional football, he always started out as a backup to some other player. Yet he never let himself get discouraged. Each time, he remained patient, practiced hard, tried to help his team, and waited for his opportunity to play. When he finally got his chance, he played as well as he could. Over and over, that strategy earned Young the starting quarterback position on each team he played for and allowed him to achieve his goals in life — including the biggest goal in football, winning the Super Bowl.

Patience and perseverance are something of a trademark in the Young family. They don't give up easily. Steve's great-great-great-grandfather Brigham Young was a pioneer in the American West. As president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, Brigham Young helped lead a group of Mormon settlers from the East and Midwest all the way across North America. They settled in what eventually became the state of Utah.

At first, life was hard for the pioneers. Utah was high desert country. It was hot and very dry in the summer, and cold and snowy in the winter. No one thought the Mormons could survive in such an inhospitable environment. But Brigham Young and his followers didn't give up. They learned to irrigate the land and grow crops in the desert. More and more people moved to Utah. In 1896, nineteen years after Young's death, Utah became the forty-fifth state.

Steve's father, LeGrande Young, was born and raised in Utah. As a young boy, LeGrande earned the nickname "Grit," because he was so strong and tough.

Grit Young was also a pretty good football player. He went to Brigham Young University, a college named after his great-great-grandfather, and played running back on the football team. Although the team wasn't very successful, Grit Young was the Cougars' best player.

After he graduated, Grit Young became engaged to and married a classmate, Sherry Steed. He then started studying for a degree in law at the University of Utah.

Grit was still in law school when his first son, Jon Steven Young, was born on October 11, 1961. The young couple called their son plain old Steve. Two years later, they had another son, Michael. Eventually the Youngs had three more children, two boys, named Tom and Jimmy, and a daughter, Melissa.

After Grit graduated from law school in 1964, the Young family moved to Lone Park, a small suburb of Salt Lake City, the Utah state capital. Grit entered the business world and was hired by a large corporation.

In Lone Park, Steve and Michael found plenty of playmates. Whenever they had a chance, they were out in the yard, playing some kind of game.

Even when he was a little boy, Steve was a good athlete. At age two he could do push-ups. At three he learned to dribble a basketball. When he went out to play, Steve usually sought the company of older boys while little Mike trailed behind.

In 1969, Grit Young was transferred by his company to New York City. The entire family piled into their station wagon and headed east, retracing the route that Brigham Young had taken more than one hundred years before. Grit and Sherry Young bought a house in Greenwich, Connecticut, a suburb of New York City.

Steve went into third grade at North Mianus Elementary School. Like many of his classmates, he loved sports. Whenever his teachers would assign a report, Steve would write about sports. After school, he played midget baseball, basketball, and football. He liked football best.

At first Steve played wide receiver, but before too long he was switched to quarterback. Steve was thrilled. His favorite team was the Dallas Cowboys, and their quarterback, Roger Staubach, was his hero. Steve tried to act just like Staubach, although because he was left-handed, he had to do some things differently from the way the right-handed Cowboy did them. With Steve at quarterback, his team won the league championship.

After elementary school, Steve attended Eastern Junior High. He tried out for the football team and was named starting quarterback.

Although Steve was a good player, he wasn't a star. The offense had only a few passing plays, so Steve usually handed off or ran the ball himself.

At the end of one season, Eastern faced arch rival Darien for the league championship. With only seconds left to play, Eastern trailed by a few points but had the ball on the one-yard line. A touchdown would win the game.

The coach sent in a play. Steve was supposed to hand the ball off to the fullback, who would run off-tackle. Eastern lined up at the line of scrimmage, sure they would soon be celebrating a victory. But at the last second, Steve decided he would try to score the touchdown himself.

The center snapped him the ball, and Steve tried to sneak over the goal line. When everyone got untangled, Steve was inches short of the goal. Eastern lost the game.

"What happened?" the coach yelled at Steve after the game. "You were supposed to hand the ball off!"

"I thought I could make it," answered thirteen-year-old Steve sheepishly. The coach just shook his head. It was hard to stay angry at Steve. He was just trying to win.

There was also more to Steve Young's life than sports. Each Sunday, Steve and his younger brothers and sister rose at five A.M. and traveled thirty miles to attend day-long Mormon religion classes. Each weekday, they awoke at the same time to attend shorter classes before school. Once Steve got to school, he was a straight-A student, well liked by both his classmates and his teachers. Steve's example left an impression on the other Young children. His brother Mike, who later became a doctor, once told a reporter, "I owe a lot of what I am to Steve. He wanted everything to be right, so he did everything right. I was able to see the success he had, and it made me want to do that also."

By the time Steve entered Greenwich High School to begin tenth grade, he was one of the best athletes in his class. But no one expected him to be a star. There were lots of good athletes at Greenwich High.

In Steve's sophomore year, he didn't even make the varsity football team. He played quarterback for the junior varsity, and the team finished with a miserable 1-10 record.

Although he made the varsity team the following year, and was even named co-captain by coach Mike Ornato, Steve Young didn't expect to play much as a junior. Senior quarterback Bill Barber led the Greenwich Cardinals' offense. Steve was only a second-string player.

Still, Steve worked hard in practice. The Cardinals ran the "wishbone" offense, which took a long time to learn to run properly. In the wishbone, each play starts out looking the same, and the quarterback has to decide from among a number of options what to do. He can either hand the ball off, pitch it to a running back, keep the ball himself, or, once in a while, roll out and throw a pass.

Even though he didn't expect to play much, Steve concentrated on mastering the wishbone. He might not get a chance to play as a junior, but he still had his senior year ahead of him. He would just have to be patient.

But just before the season opened, Barber hurt his shoulder. All of a sudden, Steve Young was the starting quarterback!

In his first varsity game, against Ridgefield, Steve ran the wishbone to perfection. In the first quarter he led the Cardinals downfield to the ten-yard line. When he took the snap, he faked to the fullback and started sprinting down the line. His halfback trailed behind.

Just as Steve was ready to turn the corner, a defensive player came up to make the tackle. But Steve faked a pitch to his halfback. The defensive player hesitated, and Steve cut toward the goal line. Touchdown! Greenwich led 7-0.

Late in the game, with the score 21-0, Steve got a chance to try out his throwing arm. With the Cardinals on the 21-yard line, Coach Ornato decided to cross up the defense and pass the ball. Steve faded back and spotted a receiver, Greg Campbell, wide open in the end zone. He reared back and threw.

The ball sailed toward Campbell in a wobbly spiral. At the last second Campbell dove, stretched out, and caught the ball, pulling it to his chest as he hit the ground. It was Steve Young's first high school touchdown pass! The Cardinals won, 27-0.

Steve Young played so well that poor Bill Barber never got back into the lineup. With Steve at quarterback, the Cardinals finished the season 7-2.

Steve matched his strong performance on the football field with similarly satisfying seasons in basketball and baseball. He was selected by his teammates as co-captain of each team and made the starting lineup. On the basketball team, he played guard. Against Stamford High, he scored 17 points. On the baseball diamond, Steve played center field and pitcher. He won three games as a southpaw hurler.

By the time his senior year approached, big things were expected from Steve Young. His surprising performance as a junior had made everyone realize that he was one of the best quarterbacks in the state. Greenwich fans expected Young to lead the team to the league championship.

Coach Ornato wanted to take advantage of both Steve's running and passing ability. In the offseason, he abandoned the wishbone offense for the "veer." The veer offense isn't quite as run-oriented as the wishbone.

In the first game of the season, the Cardinals got off to a fast start, winning 48-21. Steve Young was magnificent, running the ball 14 times for 129 yards and scoring two touchdowns.


On Sale
Dec 19, 2009
Page Count
144 pages

Matt Christopher

About the Author

Matt Christopher is the best-selling name behind more than 100 sports-themed books for young readers.

Learn more about this author