Many people in Omaha know the story of Peyton Manning and his "Omaha!" audible during his Super Bowl appearances with the Denver Broncos. What you may not have known is the Omaha connection to the Super Bowl XXIX victory of the San Francisco 49ers. The story started in Council Bluffs, IA in December of 1847, Joseph Smith, the original prophet of the Church of Latter Day Saints had been murdered over three years prior and the large congregation had sought out new leadership. After several schisms in the church, Brigham Young, the President of the Quorum of Twelve, emerged as the best and most able leader to move the church forward. To that end, in hastily built, cottonwood meeting house, Young was sustained as the President and Second Prophet of the Church of Latter Day Saints.
One of his first major changes to church doctrine was to allow plural marriage. The change was meant to increase the population of the Mormon faith as rapidly as possible. While disdainful today, the switch to plural marriage created dramatic and long-lasting results. Brigham Young himself, married at least 20 women, 16 of whom bore him 57 children. These 57 children bore grandchildren and they have created an Abrahamic level of lineage.
One of his Great, Great Great Grandchildren grew up to play at the University named for his famous Grandfather and often colloquially called, BYU. This man was Steve Young who rose up from the 8th String Quarterback at BYU to become a starter, He would later sign the largest sports contract ever at the time when he first agreed to play for the USFL Las Angeles Express. After the league folded, Young sallied forth into the NFL and eventually found his way into a backup position behind legendary Quarterback Joe Montana. Young patiently waited and finally in 1992, he was given the opportunity to lead the team as Montana recovered from injury.
Young made the best of a tenuous hold on the starting job by turning in a NFL MVP season. The next year, Joe Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, giving Steve Young the undisputed starting role. The 1994 season saw Steve Young perform at an MVP level once again and take the 49ers to the Super Bowl where they triumphed over the San Diego Chargers.
And it never would have happened had Steve Young's Great-Great-Great Granfather not gained control of the church and it would have never happened without Plural marriage. All of which happened right here in the Omaha metro!
Scott Peck is an author and a college professor. He has provided historical and cultural tours in Omaha for the past 11 years