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Niners Nation sits down with 49ers QB legend Steve Young

With all due respect to Jed York, I think our interview with him as been surpassed on the awesomeness scale.  Yes indeed, I had the amazing opportunity to conduct a phone interview our Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young yesterday.  How did this come about?  Well, it was thanks to the NFL Hall of Fame and Edelman Sports & Entertainment Marketing.  Steve Young has teamed up with the Hall of Fame on a program called Van Heusen Fan's Choice.  In a general sense, the Hall of Fame is asking fans who they think should be in the Hall of Fame.  This program allows fans to take part in a variety of activities:

  • Campaign for their favorite players
  • Interact and debate with Hall of Famers, experts and fans from around the country
  • Contribute their own analysis and commentary
  • Post video messages in support of their favorite players
  • View statistics and information for all 130+ candidates
  • Nominate and vote for the Fan’s Choice Class of 2010
  • See how their picks compare to the Board of Selectors
  • Participate in daily polls and trivia

Anyways, I was able to use this interview to get Young's thoughts on some potential 49er Hall of Famers, along with some other 49er-specific questions.  I had 15 minutes with Young but I'll be honest, when I ran out of questions at the 8 or 9 minute mark, I was actually too nervous to quickly come up with questions off the top of my head.  Yea, this was just a little bit nerve-wracking.  As was mentioned yesterday, I had to fight to avoid a Chris Farley/Paul McCartney moment.  To steal from shlecko:

"You remember when you played the Packers in that playoff game…and you almost tripped before throwing that game-winning touchdown…? Remember?"


"That was awesome."

After the jump, my interview with 49ers QB Steve Young (and yes I had to ask him about his time in law school!

NN: It’s a pleasure to speak with you Mr. Young.

SY: Hey David how are you?

NN: I’m doing pretty good.  First off, can you tell us how you got involved with this program?

SY: Well first of all you have to get into the Hall of Fame to get involved.

(Laughter – mine probably a bit more awkward than his)

SY: But, I think the Hall is reaching out to fans to get more involved with the whole process.  I think there is a little bit of how it happens and continuing to help people get more integrated into what’s going on with the Hall, who should be in there and how it happens.  I think it’s important.  If you know something about how the Hall works, it comes up on your radar a couple times a year but I think that fans have a lot more opinion about it and I think that’s why the Hall is reaching out.

NN: Is there any one particular player outside of the first year players this year probably deserves a little more publicity for their Hall of Fame campaign that maybe wouldn’t normally get it?

SY: Well, I think anytime you have somebody that isn’t in, because Super Bowls and championships have a way of defining people, and it makes it a lot easier with Emmitt and Jerry going in.  It’s kind of easy to have the qualifications other than the Super Bowls.  But there’s a lot of guys that toiled that were superior players.  You know, Chris Carter is somebody like that, where he didn’t go to Super Bowls so it’s not that easy hook that they look for.  But yet, if you saw him play, he was one of the best of all time.

NN: Do you see him potentially ending up getting sort of the Art Monk treatment where it just takes several years for whatever reason even though he’s put up these amazing numbers?

SY: Uhhh, no. I think it’s a little different.  I think Chris will go.  I think that there’s a strong sense after a first ball hall of fame receiver, there greatest in history, will open the door to a lot more receivers (a little static made this come across a little confusing on the recording).

NN: More specific to the 49ers, a guy like Roger Craig.  Speaking of championships, he was with all these great teams.  He was kind of the Ladanian Tomlinson or Marshall Faulk first with the receiving game.  Do you think he potentially gets in down the road?

SY: Yea, because I think with that whole run of the 49ers for 25 years, it’ll catch up.  Joe, Ronnie, myself and Jerry, so then what?  Then they’ll start selecting the guys that should be, like Craig and Charles Haley.  I kind of wish he had been there long term.  It would have made a difference for us, but what are you going to do.  You’ve seen it already with Fred Dean.  That’s the next group of people you’ll see.

NN: Somewhat related to the Hall of Fame, do you see any particular 49ers on the team now, especially now that they’re starting to maybe turn things around, one of those next guys that might be on their way towards the Hall of Fame.

SY: Yea, definitely, on each side.  On defense you have Patrick Willis. [On offense Frank Gore, if he can stay healthy].  Yesterday definitely helps. (Laugh).  But you need those kind of stars that have that kind of potential.

NN: Looking at the 49ers of now, looking at the quarterback position, Shaun Hill doesn’t quite exude that Hall of Fame "grace," you might say, but is he the type of guy that can lead this team to the proverbial promised land?

SY: Well I think he’s already 9-3 as a starter, so that’s a good start.  He looks very steady and with more weapons they could become more explosive.  He doesn’t have a lot of downside (my recorder cut off parts of this answer for whatever reason.  His general thoughts were that Hill could prove to be a very solid quarterback down the road, particularly as the team gets more weapons in).

NN: Looking back at your own career, outside of winning the Super Bowl, is there any particular game or moment that stands out as one of your favorites?

SY: Well any game that we had late in the year with the Cowboys or Packers during those years, and they’re not all happy memories to be honest with you, but there’s a couple.  That’s what defined who we were at that time.  I don’t know that I really appreciated it as much as I should have.

NN: I had a non sports-related question.  I’m entering my third year of law school.  I knew you had earned your law degree but I didn’t realize it happened right in the middle of your career, and I was just wondering how you were able to do that when you’re dealing with the stress of these big games, and you’re getting a law degree,

SY: Yea, I go from the Super Bowl to class the next day…I did it in six years from 88 to 94.  It worked out, I was tired by the time it ended and I was about done with it.

NN: I can imagine.  This is my third year and I am definitely ready to be done with it.  And I don’t have to learn a playbook every offseason

(Awkward laugh on both ends at my amazing attempt at humor)

SY: Good for you.

NN: Thank you.  I know you were in town for Eddie Debartolo’s enshrinement in the 49ers Hall of Fame.  Have you had a chance to meet or speak with Jed York since he’s become the face of the franchise.

SY: Yes I have, briefly, interacting in different events coming across each other.  This event yesterday was really Jed bridging himself to his uncle, that kind of owner, setting himself up for something great.  And they’re hopefully on there way.

NN: They’re definitely showing improvement.  There is that one weapon out there, Michael Crabtree that hopefully will get back in the fold.  I guess the 49ers filed tampering charges over the issue with the Jets recently…

SY: Oh really?

NN: Yes, they announced it on ESPN this morning that they’ve, the unnamed sources have indicated that.  And I know Jerry Rice had a few comments yesterday before the game.  Do you think that something will get done with Crabtree and getting him onto the field?

SY: Yea, he can’t sit out, he’s got to agree to something.  But I think that he could be stubborn (more cut off, basically saying maybe he really doesn’t want to play in San Francisco – basically just gonna have to wait and see how it plays out).

NN: You had your own slightly wayward wide receiver in Terrell Owens.  I know hypotheticals are hard to work with, but if your career hadn’t been cut short, do you think things might have turned out differently with TO in San Francisco?

SY: It’s hard to say….new ownership changed everything.

NN: Thanks again.  I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today.  Thank you very much.

SY: Ok, take care.