HEBER CITY — As one of hundreds of former and current NFL players who have suffered concussions, Steve Young is concerned about the future of the league and the effect of concussions, but he feels like the league is taking proper steps to deal with the problem.
Young was on hand Monday for the annual Steve Young Mountain Classic at Red Ledges Golf Club with his wife Barb. The event benefits The Forever Young Charity and specifically benefits a new initiative called Sophie's Place, which will fund music therapy rooms in hospitals to create awareness of the power of music to aid healing.
Over the past couple of seasons, the subject of concussions has come to the forefront and some have questioned the future of the game in light of all the problems concussions cause and because of the recent death of all-pro player Junior Seau.
"I saw a quote from one of the players who suspected that in 20 years it wouldn't be football any more," Young said. "I think that scared everybody."
However Young believes the NFL is taking proper steps to make sure today's players won't be as affected in the future by concussions.
"The league is getting serious about it and they know that it is important," he said. "Now they have a whole way of dealing with it and there's a protocol for how it's handled. I talked to Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady about this recently and both felt very strongly that they're getting the best care. Once you have a concussion, it is very hard to get back on the field."
Young had several concussions late in his career, which played a factor in his decision to retire when he did in 1999. But he said, "Mine were really vanilla and I'm grateful for that. I didn't have any of the horrific side effects that other players have had. I can't really relate (to those players)."
Young disputes those who say the answer is to just make the equipment safer, saying it will actually make it "more dangerous" if players are allowed to keep playing like they are now.
"I think they're just going to legislate 'launching' out of the league and force people to tackle with their arms," Young said. "You're going to have a lot more shoulder injuries but not as many head injuries. They'll try to make it as safe as possible because it's a great game and we've got to figure out a way to do that."
Young said he was shocked and saddened by the news of Junior Seau's death in the spring. He said Seau, who suffered numerous concussions in his career, was with former 49er receiver Jerry Rice at a golf tournament just two days before committing suicide. A week before that, Seau was with another former Young teammate Gary Plummer, who "had long conversations with (Seau) about these issues."
"We've also got to reach out to each other — no more Junior Seaus," Young said. "We need to break through the tough, thick skin a lot of players have about it and help each other through it. I don't know how we're going to do it, but we've got to make it so we can converse about it, because that's the hard part."