Helped by his hero
Vick gets one-day tutoring session from idol YoungPosted: Friday July 12, 2002 8:11 PM
ATLANTA (AP) -- Steve Young hardly feels like an old man at 40. Told that Michael Vick was 4 years old when he began his professional career, Young had to laugh.
"That's scary, that's sick, that's wrong," Young, the former All-Pro quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, said Friday. "There's no way. I refuse to believe it."
They grew up worlds apart. Young, a great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young, was groomed to be a standout athlete in Connecticut. Vick, the older of Brenda Boddie's two sons, was raised with no privileged resources in their small Newport News, Va., home.
Young and Vick, though, have formed a friendship through football that began last year. Young, a two-time Most Valuable Player who retired after the 1999 season, called Vick, the NFL's No. 1 overall draft pick in 2001, to wish him well before Atlanta started training camp.
Young forged his reputation for exceptional passing accuracy and scrambling skills and knew Vick had the potential to do the same. Both are left-handed. Both have strong arms.
After accepting an invitation last month from Atlanta coach Dan Reeves, Young watched as Vick, the Falcons' starting quarterback as he enters his second NFL season, ran some drills on the last day of minicamp Friday. Vick was giddy to spend a few hours with Young, the highest-rated passer in NFL history.
"He's somebody I idolized growing up," Vick said. "When Steve lost to the Cowboys in the championship game, I was hurting with him."
Before practice began, Young sat with Vick, position coach Jack Burns and backup quarterbacks Doug Johnson, Kurt Kittner and Dusty Bonner. They briefly watched some film before Young turned his chair around and fielded questions about Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders and the Super Bowl.
"One thing he emphasized was keep your head up so you can see the safeties," Vick said. "Because if you do that, you have a better idea -- you can see -- what the defense is doing. The defense is not going to lie after the ball is snapped. They can disguise coverages before the ball is snapped."
Later, Vick spent some one-on-one time with Young as they took the 45-minute drive south from the Falcons' camp to downtown Atlanta. Along with Reeves and team owner Arthur Blank, Vick visited the NFL Youth Education Town center where Young's foundation, Forever Young, helped finance a computer room.
Young, who works as an ESPN analyst and sits on several corporate and nonprofit boards, believed Vick to be mature and balanced for a 22-year-old with only two years of college experience.
"There's no question he was somebody who really understood, from watching other people play through the years, that there is a very kind of mature part of personality that's really important for a quarterback," Young said. "If you look at all the guys who are successful, you kind of have to handle a mantle.
'You have to take it on. I think he has a sense of history."
With Vick set to take charge of the Atlanta offense after spending last year behind Chris Chandler, Young foresees the inexperienced quarterback making a big jump in skills and savvy. Vick started just two games last year, the last a 31-13 season-ending loss at St. Louis.
Vick, who wore a replica of Young's No. 8 jersey as a youngster, also planned to get an autograph.
"I'll do that heading out," Vick said with a smile. "I can't pass that up."