Steve Young triumphantly left the field numerous times at Candlestick Park during the course of his NFL career, but there was one more euphoric ending for the Hall of Fame quarterback, and that occurred during halftime on Sunday when the 49ers retired his jersey.
Young, accompanied by his family, and a dozen or so former players including Harris Barton, Eric Davis, Derrick Deese, Jerry Rice, and Dana Stubblefield took center stage for the halftime event.
Former tight end Brent Jones, who served as Sunday's honorary team captain, got the ceremony started with his introduction of his former quarterback.
"I have the honor today of introducing my roommate and best friend – one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the history of the NFL and a guy who could destroy you with his left arm, and then could turn around and destroy you as well with his legs," said Jones.
"When he and I get together to talk about the old days, and what we miss most, certainly our teammates are at the top of the list – coaches and staff. But one of the things that ranks right at the top, and we talk about this a lot, was being introduced at Candlestick before a playoff game. So maybe you could do him the honor just one more time as I introduce to you Hall of Fame quarterback, No. 8, Steve Young."
Young delivered a short and sweet speech, mostly thanking the 49ers organization - from ownership to coaches to his former teammates - for the honor, and then directed a few words to the 49ers Faithful.
"I don't know what your favorite memory was - whether it was the run against Minnesota, the touchdown against the Packers, or the championship game against the Cowboys, but for me the memories are so innumerable," said Young. "How many thousands of you have stopped me in the Bay Area to tell me that, 'I was at Kezar, I've been in Sec. 16 since 1980. I've been in the seats seeing you play every football game.' The Faithful are the reason why we're all here. I'm grateful to everyone for all the memories that you've given me and my family. Every time I've raised my hands, I raise them to you. Thank you everybody, go 49ers."
Young became the eleventh 49ers player to have his jersey retired, an honor that his former teammates believed was more than deserved.
"I think we all kind of expected to see it happening," said Barton."Really one of the great competitors that I've ever played with, and I've seen now three guys get their jerseys retired in Steve, Ronnie Lott and Joe Montana. I think what it shows is that we really had something special back then in the 80's and 90's. We had a lot of great players and really the ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl as a team but, individually it's Hall of Fame and jersey retired."