Throughout his 14-year NFL career, defensive tackle Bryant Young was known as one of the strongest players in the league.
He did not get there by accident.
At one point as a senior member of the team, he convinced the organization to expand the weight room inside the 49ers’ Santa Clara headquarters. A wall was knocked down that separated the weight room from the press room. The media was moved to the parking lot, where their new workspace was a trailer with no ventilation and leaky plumbing.
Young on Tuesday was announced as the 29th member of the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame. A day later, he was asked to recount the story of how he strong-armed the team’s former strength and conditioning coach into greatly increasing the volume of available weight.
Young was entering his 12th NFL season when Mike Nolan was hired as head coach. Nolan brought in long-time strength and conditioning coach Johnny Parker to be part of his staff. Parker was old school, having made his name as part of Bill Parcells’ staff with the New York Giants.
“Johnny was real gritty and tough and was really knowledgeable about his profession,” Young said. “For me, it was a new lease and outlook on my career and life, and I was trying to impress the coaches and earn a spot on the team.
“And Johnny always stressed to us about getting better and staying gritty and making every rep count. Finally, I said, ‘Coach Parker, how do you expect us to get better and stronger if we only have 150-pound dumbbells?’”
Parker, who had been Inducted into the USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame two years earlier, had a visceral reaction to Young’s complaint about the 49ers’ weight room.
“Johnny was so prideful, and it really got under his skin and he gritted his teeth and he said, ‘I’ll fix that. I’ll get that straightened out.,’” Young said. “And in about a week or two we had from 150 all the way up to 200-pound dumbbells.’
“When they finally came I said, ‘Now, we can get better.’”