Monday, August 01, 2005

My Moment With Greatness: Hall of Famer Steve Young

Big news! I just finished my first Q& A with an NFL player. And no, he wasn't a Redskin. You may have heard of him: Steve Young, member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2005.

For the uninitiated, Young played in the NFL from 1984-99, and was twice named NFL MVP in 1992 and '94; he's the only player in league history to post a passer rating of more than 100.0 in six seasons. He was named to seven consecutive Pro Bowls and as a member of the San Francisco 49ers is the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown-to-interception ratio (2.16). Most people can't do that on Madden '05. Fun fact: he is the first left-handed quarterback to be elected to the Hall of Fame. He currently offers his gameday insights on ESPN with Stuart Scott, Chris Berman, and the Human Hype Machine, Michael Irvin.

Young will receive the NFL's highest award on August 7th along with perhaps the greatest of quarterbacks (and Isotoner glove pitchmen), Dan Marino. Since I can't be in Canton, Ohio, for the induction ceremony (my wife mentioned something about a wedding anniversary), I joined in a media conference call with his honor.

And just to prove I ain't lyin', I'm posting this before the official NFL transcript of the call is made public. Skeptics.

I was impressed. He's easy to talk to, and was professional enough to endure some hilariously phrased inquries from the linguistically-challenged foreign press. The conversation covered topics from his adjustment to retirement ("you wake up one day and realize you're not good at anything else") to his views on the modern player's penchance for holding out and some thoughts on Terrell Owens. He even threw in a funny Dick Butkus story. You can never go wrong with a Butkus story. When I get the transcript I'll post some highlights.

What I'm so excited about is that I actually managed to slip a question in amongst the international field of reporters. I even added a dramatic pause to make sure I wasn't talking over Mel Kiper, John Clayton, or whoever else was trying to rush in a query. Here's what happened:

Me: Steve, you received your law degree from the J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1994...[pause]
Telemundo Reporter: [unintelligible mangling of english]
Steve: ...yes, I did.
Me: That is such a rare aspect for a professional football player to have. How do you think it helped prepare you in understanding the complexity of the game?

Now Steve did answer my question; I believe he remarked something intelligent about training your mind to analyze information quickly and make decisions. But to be honest, I missed most of it because I was pumping my fist, awash in the realization that Steve Young, the man who studied under Joe Montana, threw touchdowns to Jerry Rice AND appeared on "Wheel of Fortune" was talking to me.

Finally I get to pull a Joe Theissmann and respond, for the rest of my natural life, to any Young-related statement with the prefix: "You know, I spoke with Steve Young on Monday, and..."

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