Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young has many talents. He had a cannon for a left arm. He was fleet of foot, able to scramble for serious yardage. Young also had enough leadership to guide a team to a Super Bowl championship. Young was a hero for a generation of young signal-callers.
One talent Young’s never been accused of having is acting ability. He almost had the chance to prove his worth as an actor more than 20 years ago in the film There’s Something About Mary. The film’s directors offered him a role. If you’ve seen the film, you may have noticed he isn’t present. Here’s why.
Steve Young’s football career
Young’s career began playing for Brigham Young University. Following a successful college career, he opted to join the Los Angeles Express of the fledgling USFL. Why go for an upstart football league versus the NFL? Simple: they offered him a 43-year contract. According to Bleacher Report, Young signed a deal that guarantees him at least $1 million a year until 2027.
Young eventually found his way to the NFL, where he landed in San Francisco as Joe Montana’s backup. After Montana went down with an injury, Young replaced him in the starting lineup permanently. Young led the 49ers to a Super Bowl championship, and by 1998 was one of the league’s premier quarterbacks.
How There’s Something About Mary took the 1998 summer box office by storm
On the surface, There’s Something About Mary didn’t have the makings of a blockbuster. It was directed by the Farrelly Brothers who had directed comedies like Kingpin and Dumb and Dumber. While both of these drew critical acclaim, they weren’t the hits that Mary would go on to be. Its star was Ben Stiller, who wasn’t the established box office draw he’s since become after multiple hits. It was an R-rated comedy with plenty of toilet humor, though it had a heart. It had all the makings of a film that may underperform in theaters while still becoming a cult classic.
It was a smash hit, however. On a budget of $23 million, BoxOfficeMojo reports that the film earned nearly $370 million at the box office. It launched both Stiller and Cameron Diaz to superstardom.
So what role did Young almost play in the production, and why wasn’t he in the film?
How Steve Young didn’t end up in There’s Something About Mary
CBS Sports reported that the Farrelly Brothers appeared on The Rich Eisen Show to discuss the making of the film. Toward the end of the movie, there’s a cameo from a famous NFL quarterback — Brett Favre. According to the Farrellys, Favre was the duo’s third choice. They were Patriots fans so their first choice was Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe had to back out due to an injury. They then turned their attention to Young.
Peter Farrelly said that Young enjoyed the script but couldn’t participate due to religious reasons:
“Then we went to Steve Young. And Steve Young called one day and said ‘That’s the funniest script I’ve ever read. But I cannot do it, because if I do it, it’s R-rated, and I know all the Mormon kids will be sneaking in and I wouldn’t feel good about that.'”
There aren’t many people who would turn up a chance to appear in a big Hollywood movie due to their morals. You have to applaud Young’s convictions. Of course, the film went on to be a success in spite of Young not participating, and Young did fine for himself as well.