The injury probably cost Young, who had already racked up 9� sacks, a Pro Bowl berth. But on a gloomy December morning he received an honor that rocked his world. Mariucci informed Young that teammates had voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for inspirational and courageous play, an annual honor treated with reverence in the Niners' locker room. Young, who also won it in 1996, was speechless.
His first reaction was to feel sheepish, viewing the vote as a slight to worthy teammates. When the significance set in, Young cried. "I'm not an emotional guy," he says, "but I was overwhelmed that my teammates thought so much of me. That award means more to me than any honor I've received."
His leg was far from healed, but Young was back on solid ground.