SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- It took Steve Young months to finally decide to give up football. Once he made his mind up, the rest was easy.
''Do I want to keep playing? Absolutely,'' Young said after announcing his retirement Monday, ending a 15-year NFL career highlighted by 13 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, the team he took to a 1995 Super Bowl title.
''But is it the right time to retire? Yes. I don't want people to think I'm forlorn about this. On the way here with my family, all of us were laughing. This is a celebration for me.''
Young, 38, whose plans to leave football became known late last week, made one final trip to the locker room at the 49ers' Santa Clara headquarters to formalize his retirement in front of an audience of family, friends, teammates and coaches. He played his final game last Sept. 27 in Arizona, where a violent hit left him with his fourth concussion in three years.
The choice of the locker room for his farewell to football was deliberate.
''One of the secrets of my success has always been I show up for work every day and I give it all I've got,'' Young said. ''This is where I showed up for work. I guess I wanted to show up for work one more day.''
In many ways, Young said he viewed retirement as a beginning, not an ending.
Young was married last spring to Barbara Graham and the couple is expecting a baby in December. He said he's now dedicating himself to being ''the best father and husband I can be.''
He noted he is the CEO of a fledgling high-tech firm that employs some 120 people in San Francisco, has entered into a business partnership with friend and former teammate Brent Jones on a Silicon Valley startup, and also oversees a variety of charity work through his Forever Young Foundation.
Also a lawyer, Young plans to start a public interest law firm to help disadvantaged families.
''In many ways, what lies ahead for me is maybe more important than what I leave behind,'' Young said. ''The talent and skills that I have gleaned from football hopefully will enable me to help others pursue similar dreams.''
The retirement news conference comes nearly nine months after Young took the devastating hit that left him unconscious on the turf with his fourth concussion in three years.
Before that, the seven-time Pro Bowler used his fearlessness, scrambling ability and passing accuracy to win two league MVP Awards. He also was the Super Bowl MVP in leading the 49ers to a 49-26 win over San Diego in the 1995 championship game. He won two other Super Bowl rings as a backup to Joe Montana and holds six passing titles.
Young, who leaves as the NFL's highest-rated passer, followed one of the toughest acts in league history when he took over in 1991 for Hall of Famer Montana. Young said the competition between the two helped them both.
''For me to watch one of the greats, I was energized by that and grateful for it,'' he said. ''It was the finishing school for me in quarterbacking. In all my years, I just wanted to live up to the standard that had been set.''
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