Last week, Bloomberg had a fascinating article about Steve Young that focused on the work he does with a private equity firm. Young recently published an autobiography, and at one point he talked about life growing up and learning the value of money. The article provides plenty of the usual background info, but then it goes into the work he has done since retirement in the world of private equity.
It’s an interesting read about something for which he seems to truly have a passion. Young still works for ESPN, most notably providing on-set work for Monday Night Football games. It turns out he is able to use that job to his advantage. He said his firm buys a luxury suite at the site of each MNF game to use for doing deals and wining and dining clients.
It’s a great idea, but the article got him in a little bit of hot water. At one point, Young told Bloomberg he might have quite ESPN long ago, “if not for his private equity partners, who like him to keep a high profile.” He talked about how he spends a couple hours preparing for his commentary, and spends the rest of his time “cramming for deals” in the firm’s suite.
Some folks have called him out for what they describe as a lack of full commitment to football. Young and ESPN both offered comment to the Sporting News about the article and his commitment to ESPN. Young said he used the article to try and inspire athletes to consider their future, and to think about things beyond just sports. He said he has, “worked hard to build an expertise in two different fields, and I am proud of that.” He said he is “focused on being excellent at both — and without sacrificing one for the other.”
Stephanie Druley, ESPN's senior VP of events and studio production offered this statement to Sporting News:
“Steve is one of the most respected analysts in football and he remains committed to his job at ESPN. His producers and colleagues have noted his work ethic internally, his level of preparation and the effort he brings each week," Druley said in a statement to SN. "In addition to analyzing 'Monday Night Football,' he watches games, actively participates in production meetings and contributes weekly analysis to our studio shows using a camera that ESPN installed in his office. He is one of the veterans of our analyst team and he’s constantly making fans smarter about the game.”
I don’t watch a ton of Monday Night Countdown, but when I do, Steve Young comes across as entirely prepared. I think we can all agree he is a smart guy (completing law school while playing football is no small feat). I have a feeling his preparation for MNF simply may not require the same kind of time to achieve excellence. He has been playing football since he was a kid, and had natural gifts. Couple that with his intelligence, and it seems like discussing the game of football is going to come more naturally than it does for a lot of people.
I can see why some people would view his Bloomberg comments in the lense they do. However, I also think in understanding what makes Young tick, and what he brings to the table in both of his career paths, I think it is a bit overblown. That aside, the Bloomberg article is a fantastic read.