Says Steve, "It was not a good night. Let's just leave it at that."
Yes, Bono is ripe for teasing, but he's really not as simple as the jibes may make him seem. In some ways he's as stiff as his heavily starched shirts. In others he's as mellow and unflappable as Montana. True, Steve is unwilling to travel anywhere without a handkerchief—"even at the beach," Tina says—but he also was patient enough to wait until his seventh NFL season before starting his first nonstrike game, flexible enough to maintain good relationships with Montana and Steve Young during the years in which the three were quarterbacks for the San Francisco 49ers and cool enough to lead the Chiefs to four tight victories in their first seven games of 1995, three of them overtime wins set up by fourth-quarter Kansas City comebacks.
Traded to the Chiefs before last season after the 49ers had decided that he was an unnecessary burden on their salary cap, Bono has provided K.C. with life after Joe. His statistical line has been commendable—16 touchdowns, six interceptions and a passer rating of 84.4, 15th-best in the NFL—and the spin in the Chief locker room is that Montana's departure actually energized the Kansas City offense. "Last year people felt that Joe somehow would make a play to win the game," receiver Willie Davis says. "Some of the guys who should have been leaders on offense would just sit back and wait for Joe to do it. This year those people are stepping up, and that's the difference."
And though you'll never catch Bono basking in it for even a minute, the limelight has begun to shine on the man who before this season was best known as being Montana's caddie. Not only did Bono sign a four-year contract extension last spring that stands to earn him more than $8 million through 1998, but he also actually began developing a public persona.
The day after Kansas City's 24-3 win over the Washington Redskins on Nov. 5, the Bonos hosted a charity fashion show featuring Chief players, with the proceeds benefiting the National Kidney Foundation of Kansas and western Missouri. They had hosted similar events in the Bay Area during Steve's years with the Niners, but this one raised the most money. The evening was gratifying for Bono, a man who not only loves to shop but who also enjoys accompanying his wife on her shopping trips.
"He has always loved clothes and jewelry," Cornelia says. Growing up with four younger sisters in Norristown, Pa., a modest suburb of Philadelphia, Steve inherited his fastidiousness from Biagio, a tool and dye maker. When Steve wasn't dressing to impress, he was honing his athletic skills. Not only was he one of the nation's top football prospects when he concluded his career at Norristown High, he was also recruited for baseball and basketball and can still execute a 360-degree dunk.
When Bono arrived at UCLA, in glitzy Westwood, he became the Prince of Prep, sporting more plaid than a J. Press catalog and ironing even the tiniest creases out of his shirts. Yet for all his attention to fashion, there is no way to explain how Bono botched one of the most important wardrobe decisions of his life.
"He showed up at my dorm wearing red velour bell-bottom sweatpants, a button-down shirt with red and white pinstripes and a pair of sandals," Tina says, as she rolls her eyes. "He looked like a total geek, but he was tall, and he had manners."
As she recounts this incident, Tina is sitting in the spotless living room of the Leawood, Kans., house she and Steve bought last year. Looking ahead to the Spanish-style place they plan to build this off-season in Palo Alto, south of San Francisco, the Bonos have filled their present house with furniture suitable for a Spanish villa. As a concession to their three-year-old son, Christoph, some of the sofas and chairs are covered with sheets. While rocking four-month-old daughter Sophia, Tina recalls the way Steve, in typically methodical fashion, initiated their courtship during their junior year at UCLA.
Bono and Michael Young, in search of the perfect room from which to view UCLA's female population, resorted to some devious measures. "They were building these posh new dorms, The Suites, and Steve and I went over there and scoped out the prime spot," Young says. "Then I snuck into the office of the guy who was in charge of room assignments. I saw that we had a lame room, so I erased our names and switched them with some other guys on the football team."