Team Frugal: Steve Young

Being frugal is about more than being stingy with your money. It means being prudent, smart and economical with your finances and career decisions. Every Tuesday, we share profiles of athletes that exemplify what it means to be A Frugal Athlete.

Staying on the topic of education vs entertainment relationships this week it’s only right that our team frugal athlete is Steve Young. You probably know Steve Young for his Hall of Fame career with the San Francisco 49ers winning three SuperBowls with the organization.  Before that Steve Young was the first draft pick in the now defunct USFL where he played before joining the 49ers.

photo via mike powell

photo via mike powell

Steve Young spent his early years professionally backing up Joe Montana, arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. Steve Young was frustrated with his lack of playing time but to his advantage, instead of sulking he created an opportunity for himself off the field.

Young always had an affinity for law thanks to his father, who was a lawyer himself and consistently persuaded Steve to look into law long term. While playing for the 49ers, Steve Young worked with his alma mater, Brigham Young University,  and attended their law school. He was able to coordinate a schedule where he would attend classes based on his offseason. There were times in his career where he would have to leave for school right after the Superbowl.

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Steve Young eventually graduated from law school while he was still a professional football player in the NFL and he's been able to use his excellent credentials for his business endeavors now that his career is over. He stresses the importance of his law degree in his current profession, stating in Bloomberg, "My law degree has been invaluable because now I'm in the private equity world, and even though I'm not practicing law, I'm certainly using my law degree daily. I'm surrounded by MBAs, and there's skill sets for each. It's kind of neat that there are some skills I have that these Harvard MBAs don't have."  

Steve Young is currently an ESPN analyst and corporate businessman. He is the cofounder of private equity firm HGGC having previously worked with other firms including Sorenson Capital. Steve Young is also the founder of his charity, Forever Young, which helps fundraise for various charities close to his community and causes. In an article, he caught attention for saying he would quit his ESPN job if it weren't for his other corporate job. In fact, Young went as far as to say “I see myself as a deal guy first. I’ve put football behind me. Roger Staubach once told me — and I’ll never forget it: ‘When you retire, run. Never look back.'” 

As you can see Steve Young was the ideal athlete to highlight for team frugal this week. He valued education and was able to reap the benefits after his career ended. He sacrificed his entertainment for the long term vision he had for himself. It should be recognized how hard it is for someone to complete their degree while playing but to finish law school shows a tremendous amount of dedication. His efforts exemplify what it truly means to be a frugal athlete. Back when Steve Young was playing he didn't have the luxury of online classes or distance learning, now athletes and student athletes alike are spoiled with choices to continue learning whether for school or other interests. Steve Young was able to put football behind him which has tremendously helped him post career. It's tough as athletes to move away from an identity that you have built your entire life but as soon as you recognize you are retired the better you will be for it. Steve Young is shining light to athletes that you can have fun but also continue investing in yourself as well.