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Family business: NU quarterback follows in footsteps of brother, father

Wife Kathleen and daughter Gracie pulled out the book. It was old and dust-laden. The hinges nearly creaked as they opened it. It was more than a half century old. It was from a different football era. The articles were nothing like we see today. Even the equipment was a far cry from the protection now provided to athletes.

John Paye has fled the scene by now. He exclaimed, “They just found that book. I have never seen it. My mother put it together.”

As Kathleen and Gracie poured through it, it was the chronicle of 1958-1960 Nevada Union football. It was the scrapbook for John Paye. He was a premiere running back who played teams like Yuba City, Oroville, and Chico. He was a winner, described as a hard working athlete with stunning abilities. You could not help but be impressed. It was that unique.



The apple simply never fell far from the tree. As John Paye became an adult he fathered John Junior. Years later would come Josiah Paye. He established an amazing family tradition that Nevada County has the privilege of seeing play out right before our eyes. What a treat … almost an unbelievable scenario to grasp.

John Paye excelled because he was hard-working, focused, intense, and humble. He lived in many locales. He carried this ethic into adulthood and it paid dividends he might never have imagined.




John Junior was an outstanding athlete. He played football, basketball, and baseball. He was football’s 1982 High School Offensive Player of the Year. “John John” was a phenom destined to be the heir apparent to John Elway at Stanford. Like Elway, John Junior started his freshman year. He enjoyed a stunning college career.

Football was not enough. He also played basketball on The Farm. Coincidentally, the San Francisco Giants drafted him out of high school. The San Francisco 49ers chose him following his days at Stanford.

He suffered an unfortunate shoulder injury his junior year. It was reinjured the following season. Although he had been touted as a first round pick in the NFL draft, the shoulder problem took its toll.

His years with the 49ers were spent on injured reserve until he ultimately retired from football.

Nevada Union quarterback Josiah Paye is cut from the same mold.

Kathleen Paye described Josiah as “kind, loving, and sincere. He is hard working. He just thinks well. He is a very passionate person when it comes to sports.”

John Paye looks at it a little differently. “Josiah is hard on himself. However, if you want to be successful, you need to know what you need to work on. He is competitive. He wants to win. He will do anything to beat you. It is important to Josiah to be the best he can be.”

John Junior looks at it differently. “Josiah is an awesome throwback athlete. His is old school. He participates in football, basketball, and baseball. It is a testament to his hard working mentality. He is a role model for younger kids.”

Gracie simply states, “He teases me a lot, but he is a great brother.”

On the field, Josiah Paye is indeed unique. A decisive arm is complemented by speed and maturity. Paye is the consummate team leader. He is dependable, steady, intelligent, soft spoken yet assertive. A team that was expected to go through a “rebuilding” year, Paye has been one of the catalysts that has catapulted Nevada Union into the spotlight in 2010.

Off the field, Josiah is nothing short of an incredible person. He is sensitive. He enjoys the arts. He is a person full of kindness and truly outstanding characteristics. Knowing Josiah is a true gift for those with whom he comes in contact. He is a calm, collected man. The world is a better place with Josiah Paye in it. Trust me.

This can be said for all the members of the Paye family. Success in sports is one of their by-products. Deep in sports tradition, they exhibit a level of accomplishment that is reserved for few.

And they allowed the majority of this saga to unfold right here, in Nevada County.

John Paye may have but one offspring left on the gridiron. Josiah Paye may be the last link to his sports legacy.

Perhaps fifty years from now with many of us long gone, another story might be written. One in which Josiah Paye’s family story is one for the ages. Don’t be surprised when Josiah exits the room as the scrapbook is unveiled. He is just that type of guy.


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