In the annals of worst professional sports contracts, Steve Young's deal with the Los Angeles Express of the USFL is usually at or near the top of the list, but it really didn't work out that way.
Reports that Young is still making money from the initial 1984 contract -- a 10-year, $40 million deal -- gained traction Friday, because if the deferred payments were still in place, the amounts would start to escalate in 2014. But the man himself has said he turned down an annuity. Watch this interview:
Leigh Steinberg, Young's former agent and a contributor to ThePostGame, confirmed Young's account of the story when contacted Friday. He said Young opted to take money up front when the team's billionaire owner, J. William Oldenburg, began to experience financial problems.
Young's USFL contract of $40 million is worth about $90 million in current terms, which may seem ludicrous, but Oldenburg wanted to keep pace with another billionaire owner, Donald Trump and his New Jersey Generals.
Oldenburg was desperate to snag Young, who played two seasons in the USFL before the league ceased operations. In Young's second season, Oldenburg declared bankruptcy. Because the team and the league were struggling financially, Young was offered an annuity or money up front (around $1 million). He took the money up front. If he had opted for the annuity, payments would've stretched to the year 2027.
In 1985 Young transitioned to the NFL, where he went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the San Francisco 49ers, which ended in 1999.
When reached Friday, Steinberg also recalled some details from negotiating the original USFL contract:
"As we were negotiating, Steve still had his heart set on going to the NFL. Money was never his motivation. The Express made a compelling argument that he would get better quarterback coaching and more opportunity to play by signing with them. They had Sid Gillman -- Architect of the Modern Passing Game -- as a consultant, John Hadl as head coach, who had just coached Elway at Denver in his rookie season, and Don Klosterman at GM, who was a quarterback himself. Then they went out and signed top players from college including lineman Gary Zimmerman at left tackle, who ended up in the Hall of Fame."
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