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Doug Robinson: Former QB Steve Young is a life-long Utah fan

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 13 2011 11:09 p.m. MDT

The Steve Young family at a University of Utah game left to right: Scott, Barbie, Mikayla, Jessica, Brandon and Steve. (Steve Young family) The Steve Young family at a University of Utah game left to right: Scott, Barbie, Mikayla, Jessica, Brandon and Steve. (Steve Young family)

SALT LAKE CITY— You don't know what it's like when you're a staunch Ute fan and long-time faithful member of the Crimson Club and owner of Ute season tickets — and your name is — Steve Young.

And you're a former quarterback.

And an attorney.

And a Mormon.

And you're married to a woman named Barbara, just like that other Steve Young.

And your brother is named Mike, just like what's-his-face.

And you're the great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young — yeah, like the Hall of Famer.

And your father is a former BYU athlete, just like you-know-who.

Ute Game Left to Right: Scott, Barbie, Mikayla, Jessica, Brandon, Steve (Steve Young family) Ute Game Left to Right: Scott, Barbie, Mikayla, Jessica, Brandon, Steve (Steve Young family)

"I'll bet every day I end up in a conversation about Steve Young just because of my name," says the not-so-famous Steve Young.

During Rivalry Week, the questions and conversations escalate — and this is Rivalry Week. It's Utah vs. BYU on Saturday in Provo.

Fortunately, when people see Steve Young's face and not his name, they no longer mistake him for THE Steve Young.

They think he's Ty Detmer.

This leads to conversations such as this:

"Are you Ty Detmer?"

"No, I'm Steve Young."

Steve Young the Younger is a dead ringer for Detmer, but with the other guy's name.

Steve Young plays for BYU. (All) Steve Young plays for BYU. (All)

He estimates that about three times a week, this exchange occurs: "Are you Steve Young the football player?"

"Yes."

At 43, Steve Young is six years younger than STEVE YOUNG. He first heard about Young when he was an all-state quarterback, safety and punter in Rexburg, Idaho. Actually, Steve Young aspired to be the next Steve Young, if you follow.

He redshirted for a year at Ricks College, served a church mission, played a year at Ricks as the team's punter and backup quarterback, then transferred to the University of Utah, where he was the Ute punter in 1991 and '92.

He was a good punter; unfortunately, he is remembered largely for his name and for a blunder he committed in a game against San Diego State. He ran onto the field, lined up to receive the snap and realized he had forgotten something: His helmet. He had been so excited to hear his teammates calling his name from the sideline — until he finally realized they had been trying to tell him something.

BYU quarterback Steve Young is chased across the field by the Aggies.  (Tom Smart, Deseret News Archives) BYU quarterback Steve Young is chased across the field by the Aggies. (Tom Smart, Deseret News Archives)

Young graduated from law school in 1996 — from the U., of course — which was two years after the other Young graduated from BYU's law school. Steve Young the Younger now works for the Holland & Hart law firm as a tax attorney and lobbyist.

His love affair with the Utes continues and has always been strong — well, except for his love affair with his wife, Barbara Gray — a BYU grad. She drank the Ute Kool-Aid, as it were, while her husband played for the Utes, but when he was finished with football, she "reverted," as Steve puts it, and resumed her old life as a BYU fan. Their oldest child is Mikayla, who is now a cheerleader — for BYU.

"I had to work, and she spent all day with my wife," says Young. "If I had been Mr. Mom, she'd be at the U."

Years ago, Steve and Barb were walking hand in hand up the Cougar Stadium bleachers prior to a BYU-Utah game, wearing their favorite school's sweatshirt — his was red, hers blue — when a lady pointed a finger at them and announced, "Your marriage will never last."

Former BYU quarterback Steve Young became an athlete millionaire. (All) Former BYU quarterback Steve Young became an athlete millionaire. (All)

Says Steve Young, "She did not sound like she was joking. Gratefully, our relationship has thrived despite our red and blue blood. We keep the rivalry fun."

Maybe the Steve Youngs have much in common — wives' names, profession, sport, religion, etc. — but similarities end with school loyalties. "I'm a Ute through and through," says Steve Young(er). His father played baseball at BYU and most of his six siblings and sisters went to BYU, as did his wife and most of her six siblings. Doesn't matter. He's a Ute.

Steve Young met his famous namesake at a fireside while he was playing football at what was then called Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho.) They were introduced by a mutual acquaintance.

"Oh, I've heard about you, an up-and-coming quarterback," the NFL quarterback told him.

Several years later, Steve Young was using his credit card to pay a restaurant bill when the cashier told him that the other (more famous) Steve Young was there, too. He reintroduced himself, or thought he was.

BYU quarterback Steve Young responds to BYU fans as he leaves the field after leading his team to a 37-35 victory over UCLA at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in 1983. (Photo by Doug Pizac, Photo by Doug Pizac) BYU quarterback Steve Young responds to BYU fans as he leaves the field after leading his team to a 37-35 victory over UCLA at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in 1983. (Photo by Doug Pizac, Photo by Doug Pizac)

"That's funny," the famous Steve Young said, "I've never met another Steve Young in my whole life."

"I blame it on the concussions," says Steve Young.

He also once met Ty Detmer and was surprised at the resemblance. "It was like looking in a mirror," he says.

As for the confusion with STEVE YOUNG, Steve Young says, "I like it. It leads to a lot of great conversations about football. People assume I'm a good guy and athletic. I often distinguish myself as the red-blooded and right-handed Steve Young."

And a good thing, too. About 10 years ago, Steve Young underwent brain surgery to remove a benign tumor. It cost him the use of his left arm. "When people ask how I'm doing, I say 'I'm all right.' "

Inspired by his name identity and another former kicker, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Steve Young has considered politics.

"I can't beat the name recognition," he says. "Steve Young is universally well regarded. People (and not just Mormons or Utahns) typically presume I am as upstanding and articulate as he is unless I somehow rebut their presumption. The name has been a real positive."

email: drob@desnews.com

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