Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Young reflects on nearly being traded to the Cardinals before landing with the 49ers

Oct 1, 2022 at 11:23 AM--

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded quarterback Steve Young to the San Francisco 49ers on April 24, 1987. Young almost ended up with the St. Louis Cardinals, though. This week, the Hall of Fame quarterback shared that part of his trade story with Rich Eisen.

Young landed with Tampa Bay via a supplemental draft after forcing his way out of the USFL, which ceased operations soon after. The quarterback went on to play 19 games with the Buccaneers from 1985 until 1986, going 3-16 as a starter.

"That's when I was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, who was an equally bad team," Young shared on the Rich Eisen Show. "And I had made a great relationship with Hugh Culverhouse, the owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the time, a trusted relationship. And he had told me three months before, you're my quarterback for life. You're the guy I want to build a team around. You're the kind of guy that I want here."

In 1987, the Buccaneers told Young he was being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. That's when the quarterback called Culverhouse and pleaded his case. The Buccaneers ended up making quarterback Vinny Testaverde the No. 1 overall pick in that year's draft.

After Young made it clear that he did not want to go to the Cardinals, Culverhouse nixed the trade and gave Young permission to seek his own deal.

"That's what opened up the door for Bill Walsh to give me a call and come to Provo, Utah, work me out," Young said. "And after that workout, he and I were fast friends, and that's how it happened."

Joe Montana had undergone multiple back surgeries, and Walsh wasn't sure how much longer he could play, making the trade to San Francisco appealing for Young.

"The first practice, I'm out there early, ready to go, and I've never met Joe Montana in my life, and Joe comes out jogging," Young said. "And the immediate first thing I said—'He doesn't look hurt. He does not look like he's on his way out.'

"That's when I turned to Bill and said, 'Coach, he looks pretty good.' And he gave me this shrug with a wry look and smile, and that was it. It was on. You remember the next four years; it was on."

Of course, Montana played four more full seasons with the 49ers, winning two more Super Bowls. Young admits that things were awkward between Young and Montana because Young wanted to play, and Montana didn't even want him there.

"But there we were, so we made the best of it," Young added.


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