Young Set to Call it a Career

Monday, June 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Steve Young couldn't say goodbye without one more visit to the locker room.

Young, 38, a two-time league MVP who succeeded Joe Montana and led the San Francisco 49ers to their fifth Super Bowl title following the 1994 season, was to announce his retirement Monday at a farewell news conference. It was held in the club's locker room at team headquarters at his request.

The guest list 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.

Members of Young's family along with Seattle coach Mike Holmgren and Denver coach Mike Shanahan, both former 49ers offensive coordinators and both influential in Young's development, also were expected to attend.

The decision to end his 15-year NFL career followed months of agonized debate, both within himself and the organization, over his future because of his history of concussions.

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 eighth known concussion and fourth in three years. He endured post-concussion symptoms of nausea, dizziness, headaches and lethargy for weeks and missed the rest of the season.

Young's primary neurologist, Stanford University's Dr. Gary Steinberg, is believed to have told Young last year that he should quit football because he would put himself at risk for more damaging head blows by resuming his career. However, Young, still yearning to play, sought advice from other doctors and passed a series of neurological tests showing he was clinically ``normal.''

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

Changes in his personal life also influenced his decision. The long-time bachelor got married March 14 to Barbara Graham and the couple is expecting a baby in late December.

Young, who overcame the shadow of Montana to create his own legacy, leaves as the NFL's highest-rated passer and a six-time winner of the league's passing efficiency title.

With Jerry Rice, he formed the most prolific touchdown-pass tandem in NFL history as they combined for 85 scores.

He was part of one of the most riveting finishes ever in a playoff game when he hooked up with Terrell Owens on a last-second 25-yard touchdown pass to beat Green Bay on Jan. 3, 1999.

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 football's greatest 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, garnering an MVP award for his performance in the championship game.

``I really believe he's one of the top five players ever to play the game at his position,'' said Shanahan, who was San Francisco's offensive coordinator during the 49ers' last Super Bowl season. ``He could do it all. He had a great sense of timing. He could make all the throws. He was a great competitor.''