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NFL QB Steve Young on Faith, Football, & Anxiety in New Book

NFL QB Steve Young on Faith, Football, & Anxiety in New Book
SAB0TEUR [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Mormon football player Steve Young’s new book QB: My Life Behind the Spiral details his career and faith.

Steve Young is a colossus in National Football League (NFL) history. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Young has had a rich and successful history in football and in The Church of Jesus Church of Latter Day Saints. Young’s professional football career began in the United States Football League, with the Los Angeles Express from 1984-1985 before going onto 15 seasons in the NFL. He has twice been named as the NFL’s most valuable player in 1992 and 1994. He was also the MVP of the Super Bowl XXIX and is ranked the highest among retired players of the game. A lot of this information is freely available online, but it was a false story recounted to Young by one of his four children that spurred him to set the record straight.

NFL QB Steve Young on Faith, Football, & Anxiety in New Book[/tweetthis]

Steve Young’s new book, QB: My Life Behind the Spiral is co-written with the help of Jeff Benedict. In an interview with Deseret News, Young commented, “I was really doing it to inform the children of what happened to dad. You are reading what I wanted my kids to know. I trusted in a few people's opinions that the book was worthwhile. If something is useful (to others), I'm interested in that."

The book is more than a simple rehash of Young’s illustrious career that began at Brigham Young University (BYU). The book also dwells on his faith as a Mormon with the LDS church and his separation anxiety issues which plagued him from childhood all the way to his professional career. For example, when the San Francisco 49ers traded QB Joe Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs, this left Young as the man to watch on the field. His anxiety levels rose as he worried about the backlash from fans if he could not deliver a Super Bowl victory. This led him to visit the Holy Land, literally retracing the footsteps of Jesus Christ in places such as Jerusalem.

Young Mormons are encouraged to go on a mission to spread the gospel and their faith. However, Young did not go for his mission. While many think football may have prevented him from taking this path, he reveals a surprising reason in the book.

He writes, “The Christmas break gave me time to think about my future. I decided to step away from football and serve a two-year mission. It wasn’t a snap decision. I’d been mulling it over all semester. My father had served a mission after his freshman year at BYU, and I had always aspired to do the same.” And with BYU Coach Lavell Edwards’, “decision to make me into a defensive back spurred me to go sooner rather than later. I completed the necessary paperwork and notified my bishop. The plan was set. I would leave in the spring, right after I completed my freshman year.”

“My parents were pleased. But as soon as I committed, I started to feel anxious. A mission is a great opportunity. But I knew myself too well. There was no way I’d survive being away for two years. The thought of total separation overwhelmed me. I didn’t understand the source of my fears. But I knew they were real.”

Young also explores memories and experiences from campus life that undoubtedly affects any religious young adult navigating the murky waters of college. He writes of how his friends used to keep milk for him in the refrigerator whenever they hosted beer parties and wanted him to show up. He states, “It became standard procedure for them to have milk on hand at every party I attended. They never pressured me to drink. When my buddies held a beer-guzzling contest, I guzzled milk. It's the one contest I always lost. Apparently, it's a lot easier to guzzle beer than milk.”


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