Steve Young wears a Super Bowl ring on his finger and makes millions of dollars a year.
But he insisted during a speech Sunday to young fans at the Dee Events Center here that in the ways that matter, he was probably just like them."I think about what I would say if the Lord came to me and asked, `Steve, what have you done with your life?' " Young said.
"I want to be able to say something the Lord would know was meaningful . . . I was a good brother. I was a good son. I honor the priesthood. I try to treat people fairly, honestly.
"And is that any different from what any of you would want to say?"
Young, a direct descendant of pioneer leader Brigham Young, who led Mormons to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, said he takes his responsibility as a role model for Mormon youth seriously.
"I value my testimony more than anything on earth," he said, "and I would give my life for it."
Unlike many young Mormon men, Young did not serve a church mission when he turned 19.
He said he left Brigham Young at Christmas break of his freshman year, ready to go home and process his mission papers. But prayers and talks with his father and bishop convinced him it was not the right time.
Young said some people have told him his high-visibility career with the 49ers is, in its own way, a mission for the church.
"I still would rather sit down with some young family, or one searching soul, and teach the discussions," he said, adding that he hopes his time to go on a mission will come. "Don't ever use me as an excuse not to go. . . .
"Don't envy me, because I envy you."
Young said his NFL career may seem glamorous and exciting, but it has had its difficulties. One was his competition with Joe Montana, who led the team to four Super Bowl titles while Young mostly sat on the bench.
He said he considered going to another team as the controversy dragged on.
But, he said, he prayed and attended a Mormon temple, deciding he should stick it out in San Francisco. Two years later, he led the 49ers to victory in the 1995 Super Bowl.
That experience has made him a better quarterback and has affected how he treats his own backup, Elvis Grbac, who played several games last season when Young was injured.
"I was proud of him and grateful to him, and pleased he had a chance to see why you sit on that lousy bench," Young said. "Elvis' talent doesn't in any way diminish mine. . . . The paradox is, the more you help others to be their very best, the better you are."