Why does Bryant Young belong in the Hall of Fame? Simple, because the former 49ers great had the kind of career that deserves to be recognized.
Young had an incredible impact during his career in San Francisco. He was a large presence who was greatly respected by his teammates.
This can be seen in the fact that he was chosen as the winner of the 49ers’ top player honour, the Len Eshmont Award for courageous and inspirational play, on no less than eight occasions!
Statistics and direct comparison
A lot of Hall of Fame voting can come down to statistics. It can also be about direct comparison. Who was around in your era and how do you compare to them?
Bryant Young certainly has the stats to back up his case.
Fourteen years, 208 games, 89.5 sacks, 510 tackles, three safeties, 11 pass deflections, 12 forced fumbles and 7 fumble recoveries. That’s a fine Hall of Fame resumé for anybody.
Let’s not play this down. Young was one of the most complete defensive linemen you could ever wish to see play the game. He was equally adept against the rush and pass. He had no obvious defects to his game. All of which adds more to his case for getting enshrined into Canton.
The Comparison with a first Ballot Hall of Fame Defensive Tackle
Over 13 years, and 198 games Sapp managed 96.5 sacks, 569 tackles, 19 forced fumbles and 12 fumble recoveries. Admittedly Sapp’s naked stats are marginally better than Young’s but there is an argument to be made that Young is actually more deserving of a place in the Hall.
Sapp is often cited as the prototype three-technique defensive tackle. Well Young could arguably offer more. Young played both the 1/shade technique as well as the ‘three’ tackle. Plus I would contend he played the run as well as anyone, including Sapp.
Something else you can say for Young – he opened up opportunities for teammates. When then-teammate Dana Stubblefield won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, there’s an argument to be made that a lot of opponents were more concerned with him than Stubblefield. The double teaming of Young was opening up opportunities for others.
Bryant Young was not a larger than life or headline maker like Sapp. He was a more reserved character.
Young always seemed to be a private individual; quiet, and apparently uncomfortable talking about himself.
That did not translate on to the field however, as he played with a passion and commitment on the field. As shown by the Len Ashmont Award wins noted above. Not to mention his Comeback Player of the Year award.
It’s time that another Defensive Tackle made it into Canton. After all, Defensive tackle may not be a glamour position, but it’s one of the most important in today’s game.
No DT has made it into the Hall since Sapp in 2013. How much of a struggle it can be for them to get there is shown in the 30 years it took Curley Culp, one of the stars of a dominant Chiefs team, and arguably the best nose tackle in the game’s history to be enshrined.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen to Bryant.
After Bryant played his last game he was carried off the field by his teammates at the end of the 2007 season.
Following on from that his uniform number – 97 was not given to another another 49ers player for a decade.
Clearly it takes a special talent to cope with the pressure of that comparison. Only now is the number 97 back on the ‘Ninres roster. That being on the broad shoulders of talented DE Nick Bosa.
So there you have it, Young was a force to be reckoned with throughout his career. He was strong at the point of attack, as well as being a penetrating defensive lineman.
Let’s hope he doesn’t have to wait as long as Culp to make his deserved entrance into the Hall of Fame.
Banner Image: Bryant Young is carried off the field by teammates after his last game. Image from nbcsports.com