As this year's football season draws to a close, I am reminded once again how our family will forever be linked to football. Grit and the boys all excelled at it and Steve’s success was beyond our wildest dreams. They will miss watching until the season comes around again.
Through the years, the game has granted the Young family plenty of excitement, a great amount of anxiety and some sad as well as some humorous times. Our only daughter, Melissa, gained four perfect "sisters" who have enhanced the family gene pool.
Nowadays, unless we’re called to attend a special event, it is mostly in memories that it impacts our lives. That is why Grit and I were surprised a few weeks ago when NFL Films contacted us for an interview. We thought our 15 minutes of fame were over. Its interest was piqued because this year marks the 30th anniversary of the 1984 NFL Draft.
Steve would have likely been the No. 1 pick in that draft but instead chose to join a fairly new spring football league — the USFL — on the advice of his dad and his agent. The next morning, for him emotionally, it seemed to be a wrong choice.
He had some challenging and difficult times, but in the end his football career turned out well and he found he hadn’t given up his dream after all.
Often that is how life goes. We think some downturn in luck will stick with us or we worry some choice we made will ruin life forever. With time, a positive attitude and hard work, things usually turn back around.
One of the best rewards for Steve after reading all those playbooks and watching way too many game films has been the Forever Young Foundation he and my brother Bob started in 1993. With extra help from Sterling Tanner and Robert Gay and the support of Steve's wife, Barbara, the foundation continues doing a great good for kids in both the United States and Ghana.
In December, we were invited to the very last game played at Candlestick Park. Many former players and executives were invited to attend and be honored for their efforts. Grit and our grandson, Jake, who flew in from Arizona, went early with Steve and his boys.
Steve’s wife, her mother, Gail, brother Mike and I came later. We were fortunate there was a large police presence guarding the stadium that night because we cut things close to starting time. When we arrived at Candlestick, we were given a never-before-and-never-again flashback “Chips-like” escort in.
We were allowed on the sidelines before and after the game. Beautiful fireworks exploded high above the stadium after the game as we stood on the field. We watched our son be filmed for his ESPN show. It was a one-of-a-kind experience.
The night reminded us of the year Steve was the quarterback when they won the Super Bowl, except this time we were enjoying ourselves instead of being tense and worried about the outcome.
One humorous experience resulting from our family sports involvement came from our son Jim, who is 17 years younger than Steve.
Football especially impacted our youngest child. As a tiny babe, he arrived at sports events in an English pram to keep him off the ground. By the time Jim was 16, he knew his way around many professional football stadiums.
A friend on his high school freshman football team invited him and another boy to attend a Jets game in their sports box. The game got a little slow, and because there happened to be lots of Jets memorabilia lying about, the other two boys helped Jim dress up in it.
About 10 minutes later, his friends were laughing and pointing at the Jumbotron. To the dismay of his hosts, who had taken responsibility for his safety for the night, Jim was center stage down in the Jets section, doing cheers with Jet Man.
The family who invited Jim became good friends, eventually understanding and forgiving us for the anxiety Jim caused.
For two people who began life in small towns shortly before World War II began and who never dreamed of being involved with this kind of fame even on the fringe, it has been a great ride.