Meeting Steve Young

This isn’t news, it’s the story of when I was seven-years-old and I met Steve Young. If you feel this is self indulgent, please read something else. If you have a meeting-a-49er story too, please share it in the comment section.

It was 1995 and it was towards the beginning of the season after the Niners won the Super Bowl. Steve Young had thrown 6 touchdowns in the first Super Bowl that I was cognizant enough to watch and understand what a touchdown was. A few days before that game I made my own Steve Young jersey using a white t-shirt and felt pens. I was a big fan.

So, around October, my father made my seven-year-old dreams come true. Instead of taking me school in Oakland, my dad took me to 4949 Centennial Blvd. in Santa Clara one morning. Steve Young had agreed to meet me and spend time with me. I wore a 49ers cap with the plastic adjustable back popped tight around my peanut head, and I brought a Sports Illustrated for Kids trading card of Young for him to sign.

I remember walking into the lobby with my dad and immediately seeing a giant player walk across the hall and disappear through some doors. “Oh, that’s J.J. Stokes!” I thought. “The Niners just traded up in the first round to draft that guy! He’s going to be great!”

We sat down in the lobby and waited. There were two easy chairs facing each other, and my dad sat down on one and I sat on his lap.

My dad pointed at Brian Murphy, Murph who was typing vigorously at his desk in the press room, which used to be inside the facility, but is now next to it in a portable.

Murph was bouncing his leg with a passion, and I remember my dad saying, “Look at Murph bounce his leg. He’s a young man. He has so much energy.” He was in his twenties at the time, and he was the PD’s 49er beat reporter.

All of a sudden, Steve Young walked out into the lobby wearing shorts and sat down in the vacant easy chair facing us.

“Lowell, I want you to be quiet now,” Steve said. “This is between Iggy and me.”

That was the greatest thing I’d ever heard.

“Now, Iggy, you can ask me whatever you want.”

I don’t know why I asked him this, but I asked: “What does it feel like to throw an interception?”

“That’s a funny thing,” he said, “Sometimes I throw an interception, and it’s a really good pass and I say to myself, ‘At least it was a tight spiral.’ I don’t have big hands like Joe had, so it’s harder for me to throw a spiral.”

“Can I see your hands?” I asked him.

“Sure,” he said, and he held them out for me to touch. It was like touching the hand of God.

I don’t remember what else I asked him, but the interview ended after a while. I handed Steve my Sports Illustrated for Kids trading card and he signed it, “To Iggy, My main man, Steve Young.”

He noticed the 49ers cap on my head and he asked me, “Would you like me to sign that?” I said yes. He signed it.

Then he asked, “Would you like me to get Jerry Rice to sign it for you, too?” My eyes bulged out of my head. I said yes.

Steve disappeared through the doors for a while, but then he came back and told us he couldn’t find Jerry. My dad said that was fine and thank you so much for your time but Steve almost shouted, “No, I’m going to find him. I just came back to tell you it’s going to take a little more time.”

So he disappeared again through the doors and we waited, but this time Brent Jones came through the doors and said, “What, I can’t sign the hat?”

So the three of us waited for Steve to come back, and he did, with Jerry’s autograph on the bill next to his.

“Jerry was eating alone in a meeting room,” Steve explained.

Brent Jones signed the hat on the open space at the end of the bill, and he and Young said goodbye.

When we were driving home on the Nimitz freeway, I turned to my father and said, “I wish Steve Young was my dad.”

He turned to me. “Thanks, kid,” he said.


Follow me on twitter @grantcohn.

Comments are closed.