Tough acts to follow for Young, Aikman Two QBs can't escape Montana and Staubach LIVING UP TO HISTORY

January 15, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

Steve Young and Troy Aikman both have a lot to live up to and a legend to live down.

Young, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, has the tougher job. Aikman's legend, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, has been bronzed in Canton. Young's legend, Joe Montana, is standing right behind him on the sidelines, waiting for a chance to play.

When Young fumbled three times in last week's playoff game, even his teammates wondered if he was nervous playing in Montana's shadow.

"He [Young] can only be subjected to so much criticism and so much pressure before he has a reaction to it," 49ers offensive lineman Guy McIntyre said.

But, like Aikman, Young is a low-key, down-to-earth type who's learned to cope with the high-profile life of an NFL quarterback.

Although they come from different football generations (Young is 31, Aikman 26), they developed a good rapport after getting a chance to do lunch in Hawaii last year at one of those made-for-TV events called the Quarterback Challenge.

"I got to really know Steve last year. We decided to go to lunch one day because neither of us had dates. He's a great person," Aikman said.

The two are bachelors, both started and won their first NFL playoff games last week and will face each other Sunday in the NFC championship game.

Young came out of Brigham Young (he's the great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young) in 1984, at the height of the USFL-NFL player war. He signed a lucrative contract with the Los Angeles Express, and when that team collapsed in 1985, he went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had made him the first selection in a supplemental draft of USFL players.

After starting 14 games in 1986, Young was traded to the 49ers in 1987 after the Bucs drafted Vinny Testaverde. All that did for Young was give him a chance to spend four years on the bench behind Montana. He finally got his opportunity in 1991, when Montana was injured, but was eventually sidelined himself with a knee injury. He ended up starting 11 games and the team finished 10-6, but failed to make the playoffs.

Aikman was the first player picked in the 1989 draft out of UCLA by the Cowboys and was the cornerstone of coach Jimmy ZTC Johnson's rebuilding program.

Like Young, he suffered from untimely injuries. He was knocked out in the next-to-last game in Philadelphia in 1990 and was replaced by Babe Laufenberg. The Cowboys lost the last two games and missed the playoffs.

Last year, he was injured in the 12th week in Washington and watched as Steve Beuerlein took the team to the playoffs. He felt he was ready to start the second playoff game in Detroit, but Johnson stuck with Beuerlein until it was too late -- the Cowboys were routed, 38-6.

This year, Young and Aikman have enjoyed dream seasons. Young was the top-rated quarterback in the league, the MVP and yesterday was named winner of the Maxwell Football Club's Bert Bell Award as NFL Player of the Year. Aikman was rated No. 3 (behind Chris Miller of the Atlanta Falcons). Young led the 49ers to a 14-2 mark, and Aikman piloted the Cowboys to a 13-3 season.

In the playoffs last week, Young struggled, turning the ball over ,, four times in a 20-13 victory in the slop over the Washington Redskins, and Aikman cruised in a 34-10 victory over the Eagles.

"I think he was real nervous," McIntyre said of Young. "[His] first playoff game, a lot of things riding on it, a lot of people saying, 'Steve Young has had a great season, he has won this and that, but he hasn't won a playoff game.' I mean, you're human. All that does eventually wear on you."

Coach George Seifert, though, scoffs at the suggestion Young was nervous.

"I've never had that impression. I didn't before the game. I didn't during the game. In fact, he was playing about how I wanted him to. When he was running the ball, he was as decisive as I've seen him," Seifert said.

The fumbles may have simply been caused by the slippery conditions in Candlestick Park. On one of them, Young said he popped up because he thought the play was over and when the ball was knocked out of his hands, the officials ruled a fumble.

That doesn't change the fact that there'll more pressure on Young Sunday than the younger Aikman. Aikman is playing on a younger team and the Cowboys figure their future is ahead of them.

But, like Young, Aikman doesn't want to get stopped one step short of the Super Bowl.

"As I've said a number of times, the way I am ultimately judged as a quarterback is by wins and losses," Aikman said.

Young is judged the same way and only one of them can meet that standard Sunday.

Young's stats

Yr.,Tm... .. ..Att...Com.. .. .. Yds.. ..TD.. .. ..Int

'84 LA*.. .. ..310.. 179.. .. ..2,361.. .10.. .. .. 9

'85 LA*.. .. ..250.. 137.. .. ..1,741.. ..6.. .. ..13

...TB.. .. .. .138.. .72.. .. .. 935.. ...3.. .. ...8

'86 TB.. .. ...363.. 195.. .. ..2,282.. ..8.. .. ..13

'87 SF.. .. .. .69.. .37.. .. ...570.. ..10.. .. ...0

'88 SF.. .. ...101.. .54.. .. .. 680.. ...3.. .. ...3

'89 SF.. .. ....92.. .64.. .. ..1,001.. ..8.. .. ...3

'90 SF.. .. .. .62.. .38.. .. ...427.. ...2.. .. ...0

'91 SF.. .. .. 279.. 180.. .. ..2,517.. .17.. .. ...8

'92 SF.. .. ...402.. 268.. .. ..3,465.. .25.. .. ...7

USFL.. .. .. ..560.. 316.. .. ..4,102.. .16.. .. ..22

NFL.. .. .. .1,506.. 908.. .. .11,877.. .76.. .. ..42

* -- USFL

Aikman's stats

Yr.,Tm... ...Att.. ..Com.. ..Yds.. ..TD.. .. ..Int

'89 Dal.. .. 293.. ..155.. .1,749.. ..9.. .. ...18

'90 Dal.. .. 399.. ..226.. .2,579.. .11.. .. .. 18

'91 Dal.. .. 363.. ..237.. .2,754.. .11.. .. .. 10

'92 Dal.. .. 473.. ..302.. .3,445.. .23.. .. ...14

Totals.. .. 1528.. ..920.. 10,527.. .54.. .. .. 60

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