with his Jovian bulk, Young had the lowest percentage of body fat of any St.
Louis lineman when the team was tested last year. Cast not at all in the
classic mold, his physique is nevertheless not without a certain utilitarian
beauty. One thing seems certain—no one will ever mistake Bob coming out of the
shower for Michelangelo's David.
continues to shape his body through exercise—and what I hesitate to, but will,
call diet—into an increasingly blunt instrument, it does appear that he is
still at the top of his game. Bud Wilkinson, who coached St. Louis in 1978 and
most of 1979, said last season that Young seemed to be playing better than
ever. "I know everyone always talks about how physically dominant Young
is," Wilkinson said, "and I have no quarrel with that. But what strikes
me most about him is how smart he is about the game of football. He paces
himself and he sees patterns as quickly as anyone, and I think if he doesn't
sustain a serious injury he can play outstanding football until he's at least
40. Bob is a unique athlete."
So, not only is
Young the oldest man now playing offensive guard in the NFL, but knowledgeable
people agree that he seems to be relatively unaffected by age. All this is
without precedent. It gives pause. Does the body really age as rapidly as we
have been taught? To what extent can will and the weights thwart the dying of
Young has this to
say: "For years I just went through the motions, playing because I didn't
know what else to do. But then I went to St. Louis and began to lift, and for
the first time since high school I began to love the game again. Really love
it. And I'm proud of how well I can play."
Asked how long he
can go on, Young says, "During my last couple of years with St. Louis I
used to have a dream sometimes, and in my dream it was always cool, even cold.
I'd be lined up next to Banks and Dierdorf and Terry Stieve and we'd have a
drive going, really moving the ball. Coach [Jim] Hanifan would be on the
sidelines yelling at us. The first play [Jim] Hart would hit [Mel] Gray for an
eight-yard gain, then we'd open a hole for [Jim] Otis and get the first down.
And then we'd get another. We never tired and we never gave up the ball. The
other night, for the first time, I had that dream about Leon and Carl and Earl.
Moving the ball. In my dreams it's always late afternoon. And we play that way