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How One Occasional Talk On A Plane Boosted NFL Star’s Career To The Sky

Because life should not be about comparisons or outside expectations!

Steve Young played in the NFL for over 15 years and became the first left-handed quarterback ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

However, his dizzying career in sport was preceded by a conversation that forever changed the life of the athlete.

In 1991, Young lead San Francisco 49ers as a quarterback. It was his fourth year in the team, which had already won four Super Bowls.

Nothing I did was good enough. Joe had won four Super Bowls. I was in an impossible situation

However, he was depressed about living in the shadow of the great Joe Montana, one of the iconic quarterbacks of NHL.

Midway through the season, Montana was recovering from an elbow injury while the team had a not-so-great 4–4 record.

As Young recalls in his autobiography “QB: My Life Behind the Spiral”: “Nothing I did was good enough. Joe had won four Super Bowls. I was in an impossible situation”.

With such enormous pressure, the athlete could not enjoy the game anymore.

Crestfallen, Young flew to his hometown in Utah to take a quick break from training, which did not really help the player to understand himself. However, the flight back to San Francisco become life-changing for him.

On the plane back to San Francisco Steve found himself sitting next to Stephen Сovey

On the plane, Steve found himself sitting next to a business guru and keynote speaker Stephen Сovey, whose best-seller was on the player’s bookshelf.

Their conversation predictably turned to football. Young told about his situation and self comparisons to Montana, which were driving him crazy. Covey listened patiently and asked a few questions.

“Now, Joe’s still on the team, right?”.

“Yeah,” Steve said. “That’s part of the problem.”

“But you get to ask him questions, right? In other words, he’ll mentor you?”

“Well, yeah.”

“And the 49ers are one of the better organizations in football?”

“The gold standard,” Young answered.

Covey finally said: “I think you may be looking at your situation the wrong way.”

The writer then explained that during his travels he had never met more organized and coordinated team: 

“If I understand your situation with the Forty-niners correctly, you arena the one place in the NFL where you can find out just how good you can get.”

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Before the two bid farewell in San Francisco, Covey said one more thing: “Do you want to find out how good you can get? Then do it”.

For the big Star Wars fan like Steve, it was a “Yoda moment”. Young was looking for a new perspective, and he found it. Athlete could not wait to be back on the field.

In 1992 Steve helped his team to achieve an impressive 14-2 record and received the NFL Most Valuable Player Award.

Despite the optimism, the year was not easy for Young. He had a knee injury and was not allowed to play again until the 15th game of the season. However, Steve was determined to reach his limits, no matter what.

The limits were high. In 1992 he helped his team to achieve an impressive 14-2 record and received the NFL Most Valuable Player Award.

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In 1994, with Young’s lead the team won Super Bowl XXIX, where the player scored a six touchdowns and surpassed the previous Super Bowl record set by Joe Montana himself.

He was also named Super Bowl MVP.

When the athlete retired, he was the highest-rated quarterback in NFL history.

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Now Young is an ESPN football analyst and co-founder of HGGC, a private equity firm that acquires majority stakes in software companies worth between $300 million to $500 million.

These are the results of a chance conversation and one decision.

“It’s not about comparisons or outside expectations”, Young recalls telling himself. “My quest is to find out how good I can become”.


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