Tight end Charle Young was credited as being a key, along with Hacksaw Reynolds, to the 49ers turnaround in 1981, more by changing the team’s attitude than by providing superstar play. He started out with the Eagles, playing four years there and winning both Rookie of the Year and All-Pro honors after being drafted in 1973. He’d been a standout at USC in the early ’70s. Back in 1972, Time named him to its All-America team and made these comments:
Tabbed as “an aggressive receiver who catches anything near him,” Young has the speed to run deep patterns and the size to be a bruising blocker on sweeps. “On a pro club that needs a tight end,” says one scout, “Young could start the first game next season.”
He went to the Rams in 1977, north to the Bay Area in 1980, and played with the 49ers through 1982. From there it was northward a ways farther, to Seattle, where he played through 1985. In 1984, when he predicted the Seahawks would make the Super Bowl, he said of the 1981 team: “We were 2-2 that year when we went into Washington and won. That turned our season around.”
At his retirement in 1985, Young said he had plans to become an ambassador eventually, but in the meantime would run a construction company and auto import company in the Seattle area. He announced he’d change his official name to C. Edward Young, and told the press: “I don’t want you writing ‘Whatever happened to Charle Young?’ stories.”
Charle summarized his career like this: “I’m truly thankful. I had 13 wonderful years. I came into this game a winner, and I left this game a winner. I always tried to conduct myself in a manly type of way.
But football is not the end of the world. I’ve always used it as a stepping stone. I intend to be an ambassador, but I’m talking 15 years from now.”
In 1981, he’d ride his 10-speed bike from Belmont to Redwood City and the 49ers’ complex. He’s a Fresno native, an ordained minister, and a self-described “man of God.” In 1981, Young said: “That’s what we’ve incorporated into our entire game plan this season-a positive mental attitude. If you have that, you can succeed in whatever you do.”
His daughters became track athletes at USC, and he has a son, Chancellor, who plays on the University of Washington football team.