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Peter King
August 04, 1997
Public activist and celebrity quarterback Steve Young faces a private challenge: finding a Mormon wife and starting a family
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August 04, 1997

Chief Worry

Public activist and celebrity quarterback Steve Young faces a private challenge: finding a Mormon wife and starting a family

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"We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."
—1995 proclamation by church president Cordon B. Hinckley

The scene inside the huge tent under which the Steve Young Charity Golf Classic awards ceremony was being held resembled that of a typical big-jock fund-raiser. There was a sprawling buffet, rows of white-tableclothed tables, a dozen autographed jerseys, sets of shiny new golf clubs and scores of logoed freebies from the companies endorsed by Young, the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback.

But the gathering, held on June 23 in the foothills of snowcapped Mount Timpanogos south of Salt Lake City, was most unlike a typical big-jock fund-raiser. There was no beer. No liquor. No tanked-up players. There were kids. This could have been the Von Trapp Tournament, so many children were scurrying about. Two of Young's three brothers (he also has a sister) saw to that. Mike, a 33-year-old emergency-room doctor in American Fork, Utah, stood rocking Cade, his five-week-old son, while Mike's wife, Shayne, and daughters, Taryn, 9, Andie, 6, and Ellery, 3, completed the Rockwell painting. The other brother in attendance, Tom, 27, who runs Steve's charitable Forever Young Foundation, worked the room with his wife, Stacy, and daughter, Sydney, 10 months.

The day was perfectly Mormon: Families together, BYU friends reunited, $80,000 raised for a good cause. Steve, the M.C., played the witty host on the wireless mike. He made the most pedestrian of former BYU teammates sound like All-Americas and zinged a few buddies with G-rated cracks. He saved one PG rip for a man who wasn't in the crowd. "By the way," said Steve, in the middle of a basketball riff, "somebody tell Dennis Rodman he can stick it." The crowd, irritated by Rodman's anti-Mormon remarks during the NBA Finals, cheered wildly. "I can say that, can't I?" Young added meekly, as if embarrassed to have spoken badly of another person.

The pristine scene lacked one element. Two, really. A wife for Steve Young. And children for Steve Young. This is a particularly touchy time personally and professionally for Young, who turns 36 in October. Age has become his archenemy. His relationship with fiancée Aimee Baglietto is on the rocks, four months after their wedding was called off and a year after he fell in love with her. This is the second time Young nuptials have been scrubbed. The first cancellation came in 1984 when Young, then playing for the USFL's Los Angeles Express, got cold feet.

Young, a devout Mormon, is determined to marry in the faith and before his football career ends, but the numbers and the clock are against him. There are but 4.8 million Mormons in the U.S. According to Thomas Holman, associate professor of family science at BYU, the average Mormon woman marries at 21. With the divorce rate of temple-married Mormons at one fifth the normal U.S. divorce rate of one in every two marriages, the pool of single women from which Young might choose is microscopic. "You see my problem, don't you?" he says wryly.

Young is nearing a football crossroads, too, after a 1996 season marred by a pulled groin, two concussions and three broken ribs. Sources close to Young, who is embarking on his 14th pro season, say he is on the verge of signing a $6 million-a-year deal. The 49ers didn't show much long-term faith in him on draft day, however, choosing a quarterback, Virginia Tech's Jim Druckenmiller, in the first round for the first time since 1967, when they selected Steve Spurrier. Young says he is pain-free, and postseason neurological tests showed no spots on his brain indicating excessive bruises from the concussions. Still, San Francisco chose Druckenmiller as a long-term insurance policy for the man who missed all or part of seven of its 18 games last year.

Young's public and private worlds are inextricably tied. He won't be specific about what went wrong between him and Baglietto, though he did say he is trying to patch things up with her. Last summer during training camp in Rocklin, Calif., Young was so smitten by Baglietto, a 25-year-old senior at BYU, that he said to a teammate who had sneaked out of camp one night, "Give me your blueprint. I've got to see Aimee." The couple set March 8 as the wedding date. They registered for gifts at Williams-Sonoma. But the relationship grew rocky last winter. A hundred rumors flew as to why, from Baglietto's not being devout enough for Young to their simply growing apart. Young says now, "We're trying to work it Out. You grow and learn."

At his tournament Young reiterated that he aches to be married and to have at least one child before he finishes playing. "That's my goal, and I'm determined that it will come true," he said, sitting in the shade of a young evergreen by the 18th tee. "Even if he or she is an infant and doesn't remember [seeing me play], I want it to happen. I want it so bad."

When we last saw Steve Young, he was wincing. On the sidelines during the Jan. 4 NFC semifinal at Green Bay, Young tried over and over to block out the pain of his broken ribs, one of which was dislocated. Even with a painkilling injection from team medics, he couldn't. After two ineffective series with Young calling signals, the 49ers replaced him with Elvis Grbac, who played miserably in the Wisconsin muck. The Packers routed the Niners 35-14 and went on to win the Super Bowl. "They said the shot would numb the area, but that one out-of-place rib kept killing me," Young says. "Every time I threw I felt like I was getting stabbed in the back."

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