Following a collegiate career as the signal caller at Brigham Young University, Steve Young was projected to be the first overall pick in the 1984 NFL Draft.  USFL teams, not expecting that Young would sign with the upstart league, by and large passed him by in their draft's first round. 

Then with the 10th overall pick, the Los Angeles Express and their new owner, J. William Oldenburg, took the plunge.  Young had no intention of signing with the Express, but Oldenburg, the man they called "Mr. Dynamite," would stop at nothing to lure Young to Los Angeles.  He signed a number of Young's BYU teammates, building an offensive line that was considered by many the best in the game - NFL or USFL.  In the end, Young did sign with the Express thanks to the largest contract ever offered to anyone in the history of pro football at the time - four years, for a reported $40 million.  While the dollar figure was a misnomer - most of the $40 million was in the form of an annuity to be paid out over decades - it was enough to get Young to sign the line, and to get him on board the Express.

Once there, Young regretted signing.  The Express, despite a maiden 1983 season that saw the team go 8-10-0, were an unmitigated disaster.  Though talented on the field with teammates the likes of JoJo Townsell, Mel Gray and Kevin Nelson, off the field the team drew more flies than paying fans to the cavernous Los Angeles Coliseum, and within a year "Mr. Dynamite" would be gone as well, surrendering the team back to the league while undergoing financial problems.  The league's control of the team in 1985 led to, among other things, Young playing a game for the Express at fullback - the team's starters injured, the league refused to authorize the signing of replacements.  Despite his best efforts, Young's Express in 1985 were an abysmal 3-15-0, and much to his relief, after the season he was released to pursue a career in the NFL.

Young's two seasons with the Express was a learning experience that would serve him well in the NFL, where after two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a four-year apprenticeship as Joe Montana's back-up in San Francisco, he would take the reins of a perennial contender.  He would go on to play in eight NFC championship games during the course of his 49'ers career, earning three Super Bowl rings (after the 1988-89 seasons as Montana's back-up, and again after the 1994 season as Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXIX) before retiring in 1997.

Young's 32,610 passing yards and 209 touchdowns in the pros was enough to merit his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005, and today he's active both on the public speaking circuit as well as with his Forever Young Foundation, a charitable group he founded that aids youth organizations.


Los Angeles Express


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