Steve & Barbara Young

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Steve and Barbara Young chat about Utah, watching 'Barney' and his retired BYU jersey.

Steve and Barbara Young chat about Utah, watching ‘Barney’ and his retired BYU jersey. (Photos by Shamberlin Young/Shamberlin Photography)

For having such a common name, Steve Young does not have an ordinary reputation.

He is perhaps the most famous BYU graduate of all time. He is well-known for his good looks, his lengthy bachelor days, his consistent arm and his charitable spirit. For countless women between the ages of 25 and 45, he was also a heart throb and the ultimate Mormon bachelor.

His aura continued to grow through the years, especially because his behavior and his priorities never wavered, unlike many professional athletes blinded by the spotlight.

But for all of his untouchableness, Steve is an every day man.

He worries about his kids. He loves to spend time with relatives. He is grateful for his wife, Barbara. And he struggles with his 2-year-old son during the photo shoot for Utah Valley Magazine. Not even the greatest NFL quarterback of all time can keep his 30-pound firstborn in his arms long enough to capture the perfect cover photo. He is the father of very normal sons, Braedon age 2 1/2 and Jackson, who is 5 months old.

Although Steve is an everyday person, he is also extraordinary. Some people seem less impressive the closer you get to examining them. Steve Young becomes more impressive. You get the sense that he is the perfect husband. The most loving of fathers. The most humble of athletes. A smart businessman. A community leader.

And his wife, Barbara, is a great match for his breadth of talents and interests. Not only do they look like a perfectly beautiful couple, Steve and Barbara have negotiated a parenting partnership in which they operate smoothly as a family. Steve is glad he waited so long to get married because he found the woman he was searching for and was ready to enjoy the family chapter wholeheartedly.

Being Mrs. Steve Young may seem like a tall order, but Barbara has glowing reports of their first 40 months. She doesn’t mind Steve’s fans stopping them in Costco or the University Mall. She has adopted Utah and BYU, and we have adopted her.

This handsome Young family epitomizes Utah Valley’s family values, love for the outdoors and ambition. Steve and Barbara’s greatest desires are for a happy family, a peaceful night’s sleep, and just one family picture with everyone looking the same direction.

Here is a portion of the conversation between editor Jeanette Bennett and the busy Young family.

Barbara & Steve Young

Barbara & Steve Young

What does Utah represent to you? Is it your getaway time?
Steve: It’s family. We have 12 nieces and nephews within range here, and for Braedon and Jackson it is great for them to be around their cousins. We just hosted a tea party at our house for the cousins.
Barbara: They wore big hats and had an old-fashioned tea party on our lawn.
Steve: We also just had a barbecue and had big blow-up slides and toys for the kids. We always have a great time when we are here.

What is your favorite restaurant in Utah Valley?
Barbara: Chang’s.
Steve: Barbara is an Arizona girl, and P.F. Chang’s originated there. We also like Tepanyaki.

What are your impressions of Utah?
Barbara: It’s cold! But I love the mountains. It is beautiful here. The summer nights are amazing. But I’m from Arizona, so if it drops below 50 degrees, I freeze!
Steve: I get extra heaters for her.

Barbara and Steve Young share their love for sports and horses with their oldest son, Braedon. The Youngs' Provo estate includes corrals and animals.

Barbara and Steve Young share their love for sports and horses with their oldest son, Braedon. The Youngs’ Provo estate includes corrals and animals.

What is your favorite Utah season?
Steve: We love the summer because we can be with the horses.

Does Utah feel like home to you, Barbara?
Barbara: Utah is like a vacation place for me. I remember coming here to go skiing and to visit my friends at BYU. This is Steve’s birthplace, and they say you always return to where you came from.

What do you miss about Utah when you are away?
Steve: Our friends. We have great friends and family here.

What do you miss the least?
Steve: The inversions.

Do you come to Utah to attend BYU games?
Steve: I work a lot during the fall, so I watch BYU games on TV. I don’t get to be there in person very often.

Steve and Barbara Young enjoy summer nights in Provo, especially because they have friends and family in Utah Valley.

Steve and Barbara Young enjoy summer nights in Provo, especially because they have friends and family in Utah Valley.

Braedon, age 2 1/2, is happy no matter where they are — if he's on dad's shoulders.

Braedon, age 2 1/2, is happy no matter where they are — if he’s on dad’s shoulders.

But you’ll be to the first game this fall, right?
Steve: We’ll be there.

When did you find out about BYU retiring your jersey?
Steve: They called a few weeks ago. This is going to be great because it will evoke a sense of history for the dedicated BYU fans. A lot of people deserve to have this same recognition, and their turn will come.

Congratulations.
Steve: Thanks. (Turning to his wife) Barb, I like you in that shirt.
Barbara: Thanks. I got it for $9.99. It’s more fun when you find a bargain.

Where do you like to shop?
Barbara: I don’t. Steve is always telling me I should go get some outfits, but I just really don’t like to shop.
Steve: She likes to shop for kids clothes, but not for herself.

Kids clothes are fun because they don’t need to try them on, and you know they’ll look cute in them.
Barbara: Exactly. I just can’t get in the mood to shop for myself.

Barbara & Steve Young

Barbara & Steve Young

What is your day-to-day life like?
Steve: Kids. We wake up each day and do it all over again. I have some business to take care of every day. We do some traveling, but now with two kids it’s like we’re the Beverly Hillbillies. They require so much stuff that it is difficult to go anywhere.
Barbara: In the fall, we go back east for Steve to work for ESPN.
Steve: And we are always busy with the Forever Young Foundation. But honestly, our lives revolve around the boys.We’ve been married 39 months, and Barbara has probably been pregnant or nursing for 33 of those months, so our lives revolve around the kids.
Barbara: 40 months.
Steve: Is it 40? OK. Family is really the theme. What’s nice is that we’re at a point in our lives where we can focus on family and hopefully do a decent job of raising our kids.

How many kids do you hope to have?
Steve: It started out at five, but we’re getting old.
Barbara: We’ll feel lucky to get four.

Barbara, how has your life changed since meeting Steve?
Barbara: I was completely independent. I had worked through college by going to Europe and modeling every other semester so I could pay for school. After I received my degree, I continued to work here in the states and abroad. I would have to fly to a job on a moment’s notice, even if it was in Europe. Now, the only thing I have to fly to in a moment’s notice is a dirty diaper. Steve and I both have made a major life change. We found out we were pregnant two weeks into our honeymoon and our new boss was born 8 1/2 months later.

Has the transition from modeling to parenting been overwhelming?
Barbara: I think my biggest struggle with having kids is that I miss my independence, but at the same time, I love that these two — make that three — boys “own” me. They have brought something to my life I could have never gained on my own. I’ve never been so in love than I am right now at this moment in my life having these boys in my life.

You must have so many demands on your resources and so many people — like me — who want a piece of your time. How do you manage?

Barbara: Steve is amazing. He’ll head to the store to get diapers, and by the time he comes back he’ll have taken five phone calls, arranged four plane schedules and more. He amazes me.

Steve: I don’t know about that. The constant theme for us now is kids and the roles that we take on have to fit around that. We spend time visiting our parents. We try to support causes and people we have a true love for.

Do you see your celebrity status as stressful or as an opportunity?

Steve: It’s both. It’s always there, but it is becoming less obtrusive. I have been fading from the spotlight. The funny thing is, we just feel like we’re a family. But being well-known can be a very powerful tool.

Barbara: There are times when say, I want to go sing karaoke, but I can’t just drag Steve up onto the stage. We have to be careful about what we do in public.

What is your philosophy on success? 

Steve: You have to individually define it. It can’t be defined by the world; they will mostly mess it up. You are the only one who can track and reward personal success as to being a better person.

What are philosophies on fame and wealth?

Steve: Fame is a tool and not a weapon. You must look at it as the positive force and do something good with it. It does go away, by the way. Money is the same. It must never be used to hurt. You better keep your eye on the ball so that you don’t let money work you instead of the other way around. Money is a tool and a powerful tool at that.

Barbara: People work really hard to be famous and then when they are, they wish they weren’t. I feel so bad for actors. They have no personal life and get bombarded everywhere they go. That would be so frustrating! On the subject of money, my favorite quote is by Oprah Winfrey: “Money only makes you more of what you already are.” It magnifies your personality. Adversity and money are two true tests of a man’s — or woman’s — character.

What is the best thing about being Steve and Barbara Young?

Barbara: When we go to a restaurant that supposedly has a 45-minute wait, we don’t always have to …

Steve: That only happens sometimes. And I never push myself on people.

Barbara: No, he never does.

Steve: The best thing about being Steve Young is the whole world is like living in a small town. Everyone knows you and wants to be a friend. My world is named Mayberry RFD.

So you don’t think twice about going to Wal-Mart or to the mall?

Steve: No. Definitely not. We were just at the University Mall, and we  signed a couple autographs and took a few pictures. And it was fine.

Do people react to you differently in Utah than they do in the Bay Area?

Barbara: In the Bay Area, it’s more of an adult-football thing. In Utah, all ages are attracted to Steve. There are the grandmas who think they are his second mom, and there are the children who have looked up to him their whole lives.

Steve: In Costco the other day, I saw some girls looking at me and watching me. I just smiled at them. Finally, one of them came up to me and said, “Are you Steve Young’s son?” Think about what that means! They think Steve Young is really old. I haven’t played for quite some time, so they probably only know that I used to play at some point. They have no idea how long ago. But I took it as a compliment.

Barbara, you probably realize that Steve was the most famous, most eligible Mormon bachelor of all time. How do you feel about all the women who were crazy about him?

Barbara: We had a few stalkers just before we got married.

Steve: There have been a few crazies over the years, but things have been more normal lately. I don’t think people realize what a normal couple we are.

Do you have traditional marriage roles?

Barbara: Steve does the cooking and cleaning. He is our official diaper changer and professional burper. I put the food in and he takes it out.

Steve: I think we have a great partnership. My work situation allows me to be very involved.

Does it also allow you to catch SportsCenter several times a day?

Steve: I really don’t watch it that much. I’m not a fanatic sports fan and I never have been. Even when I was playing, I watched games more as a fellow competitor than as a fan.

Barbara: He watches golf.

Steve: (Laughs) I do like to watch golf. But we’re too busy to watch a lot of sports. The last three hours of the day are spent getting everybody taken care of.

What have you learned from parenting?

Steve: We’ve gained so much respect for parents. It is such an unsung role. We think about our own parents, and we think about the millions of parents out there. We are amazed by single parents and all they have to do.

Don’t you think parenting teaches us lessons in life we can’t learn any other way? I always say you haven’t fully lived until you’ve been a parent, built a house and started a business. Those are three intense learning experiences.

Steve: I agree. Barbara and I built a house together. We had fun. We decided that meant we were going to have a great marriage because we built a house together and loved it. We’ve remodeled this Provo house and Barbara made a lot of the decisions and was heavily involved in the planning.

If I were to look at your CD collection, what would I see?

Barbara: Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band.

Steve: And “Barney Sings the Hits.” I always laughed with my brothers about this, but when you are in the intense years of raising young children you lose track of what’s hip and happening. I know more about “Calliou” and “Dragon Tales” than anything. I think I’ve seen every episode. But I’m grateful there are good shows for the kids.

Barbara: Braedon has learned Spanish from “Dora the Explorer.”

Steve: But we don’t think he’s ready for feature-length movies.

Barbara: We tried to take him to “The  Piglet Movie,” and he just wanted to come home.

Speaking of movies, how did you like being in “The Singles Ward”?

Steve: We still haven’t seen it.

You’re kidding!

Steve: No, we just haven’t had a chance. I will tell you I was very, very concerned about being in something that might make light of important things, but from what I hear they did a good job with the movie. But it was probably the hardest thing they had ever done trying to talk me into doing it.

Do you have a favorite movie?

Steve: My all-time favorite is “The Sound of Music.”

What was the last movie you saw?

Steve: I don’t even know. We never go to the movies.

Barbara: We saw “The Italian Job.” That was the last one. If we ever go to the movies, we have to go right between feedings for Jackson, so we run to the theater and see whatever’s playing at 2:45 or whatever time we can get there.

In a recent profile of Marjorie Hinckley she talked about her favorite sound, which was the sound of a screen door slamming because it reminded her of summers with her kids. Do you have a favorite sound?

Barbara: Silence.

Steve: My favorite sound is late at night when I can hear the fan going and I know the kids are asleep. Then Barbara and I have our time together.

Barbara: He scratches my back every night.

Do you keep a strict bedtime schedule?

Steve: The kids go to bed at 10, and then we have time together before we fall asleep around midnight.

How does parenting compare to football?

Steve: It doesn’t. Football is not relentless. Being a parent is like a constant drum beat. It can be difficult. There are times when the kids are screaming, and we’re at our wits end and no one is  happy. It never ends. But there is nothing better.

Barbara: Sometimes when the kids do something cute, Steve says, “This is my dream come true.”

Steve: Braedon will come in and tell us he loves us, and those are moments I always used to think about and wonder if it would ever happen for me. For a long time, I didn’t know if I would ever have a family. It is wonderful.

When did you start feeling like a true parent?

Steve: When we helped Braedon learn how to put himself to sleep. It was so hard. And we had to let him cry, but he did it! He learned how to go to sleep.

[Barbara]  We were so excited because we had taught him something. Maybe being a parent at an older age has helped you appreciate it more.

Steve: There’s no doubt that physically you’re supposed to do this at a younger age. But emotionally and maturity-wise, we should do it now. It is such a dream come true. I love those moments when we’re all hanging out on our bed together and we’re just a family. That is when I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.

It’s better than the Super Bowl?

Steve: Of course. This is so tangible. I feel like I’m making a deposit in my family’s emotional bank account every day.

Barbara: And it’s the kind of bank account you can take with you.

When you look back on your career, do you focus on the highlights or do the hard times stick out just as much?

Steve: There is no question I remember the hard times. It is human nature to keep track of pain, I think. In many ways my whole career in football has been one great blessing. The hard times I remember as the anchors to my integrity and character and the good times I remember as anchors to my work ethic and teammates. In the rearview mirror it all seems like it was for the good.

Barbara, what are your goals and hopes for the future?

Barbara: Potty training for the toddler is definitely high on the list these days. (Laughing) Seriously though, I have this dream that one day Steve and I will be seated at Thanksgiving dinner with all our children and our grandchildren. I can only imagine what a wonderful feeling that must be to look across the table and see the family that you have seeded, watered and put into the sunshine. My goal, my hope, is that our children, in that moment, can turn to us and say, “Thank you for your love and guidance. We know you did the best you could.”

I’m sure that day will come. It has been great to meet you. I’ll let you go so you can go to dinner with your friends.

Barbara: I think this is the first interview where we haven’t been asked how we met.

[Steve]  That must mean we’ve arrived! Jeanette can see our kids crying in the background, so she knows there’s more to the story now.

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