Going up against 300-pound linemen who wanted nothing more than to lay him out was a pretty common occurrence for football Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.
Yet the former San Francisco 49er said mental fears have weighed greater on his mind than physical ones and at times have been "a constant companion," though they haven't necessarily been a bad thing, he said.
"I believe our fears can actually lead us to greater faith," he said. "(It) moves us to greater dependence on the Savior."
Young was the concluding keynote speaker Sunday night at a fireside in the Salt Lake Tabernacle that was part of a three-day young single adult conference for members in the Bonneville, Murray East, Holladay and Granger regions of the Salt Lake Valley. Organizers estimate about 3,500 young single adults attended the conference.
In a meet-and-greet session before his address, Young told about 250 invited guests that he understood very well the challenges they face and the fear that accompanies those challenges.
"I want you to know that in many ways, one of the most challenging things to do in this world is to keep the faith as a single member of the church. I lived that for a very, very long time," Young said. "And I'm grateful for that challenge."
Young, who married when he was 38, said he was a shy kid growing up and was often filled with anxiety that left him asking, "Why are you so fearful, Steve?"
Fear of change and fear of God's will are some things that can get in the way of having confidence in the gospel, he said, but they can also motivate. Young used an example from his football career to demonstrate how fears can be a catalyst for change.
"I'm not very tall for an NFL quarterback," he said. "When I would go back to pass, many times I couldn't see over my linemen, who were oftentimes 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7. It was very frustrating because Jerry Rice would be open and I couldn't see him. So I would hold the ball and get sacked."
After taking several hard hits, Young figured that he would try something different. He would change the way he had been passing for his entire football career.
"I decided to do something revolutionary, something very hard to do in the moment. I threw it anyway," he said. "To do something on sheer faith was brutally difficult, though not always successful. Everything inside of me said, 'Wait until you can see him.' Well, waiting to see wasn't an option anymore. But man, was it tough to change."
Young said having faith things will work out is imperative when faced with challenges, regardless of what they are, because everybody has them "and they don't stop."
He said problems don't stop for people once they are married; marriage is "just a new, interesting, beautiful, eternal challenge" that requires "an immediate turn to selflessness."
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who presided at the meeting, shared a few remarks following Young's speech. He referred to Young as "one of the great men of the church. I hope you'll follow his life. His humility. He was a great, great quarterback, but he has magnified his calling as a priesthood leader, and I hope that each of you will do likewise."
Young's mother had also prepared statements that were read when organizer Jared Hansen introduced the football star. She wrote that he was a man of integrity, despite his loneliness."It was his faith that kept him going out on the field when the boos were louder than the cheers," she wrote. "It was faith that kept him going when his teammates went home to their families. It was faith as he attended the weddings of his best buddies, whose children are now going on missions."
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