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Former USFL quarterback Steve Young

Steve Young USFL contract: Does former QB still get paid by the USFL?

Steve Young had a long and illustrious football career. The quarterback played 15 seasons in the NFL. He spent 13 years with the San Francisco 49ers and had a two-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well.

What many fans don't know is that Young's first football contract was with the USFL. In 1984, the former BYU Cougars star was persuaded to forgo the NFL draft to play in the USFL.


He was selected by the Los Angeles Express in the newly-formed league and signed a record 10-year, $40 million contract with the team. However, Young agreed to take his payment in the form of an annual payout over 43 years to help the fledgling team.

Unfortunately, Young didn't receive all of his money from the LA outfit even though his contract was set up as an annuity. In 1986, the USFL collapsed and filed for bankruptcy.

Young received $4 million upfront and base salaries of $200,000, $280,000, $330,000, and $400,000 for the four-year duration of his contract with the Express. Once the contract expired, the quarterback would have no further obligations to the team. But Los Angeles was expected to pay him the final $30 million over 37 years, from when Young turned 28 until he turned 65.

If his contract was still active, the former quarterback would have been on course to receive money until 2027. According to reports, Young made a total of $4.8 million from his USFL contract.


In an interview with ESPN in 2011, Young spilled the beans on his USFL contract. He said:

“The owner was so crazy, it had to stay in his name for 45 years. So they gave me the option to take the money, which I think was 1 million bucks or $900,000 to fund the annuity — either take that money or fund the annuity — I just took the money.”

Steve Young's spectacular NFL career and honors

Steve Young with the San Francisco 49ers

Steve Young was picked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1985. He spent two years with the team before joining the San Francisco 49ers.

Young helped the Niners win three Super Bowl titles. He also earned seven Pro Bowl honors before retiring in 1999.

He racked up a whopping 33,124 passing yards with 232 touchdowns and 107 interceptions across 169 games in the NFL. Young also had 4,239 rushing yards and 43 touchdowns on the ground.

Edited by
Nicolaas Ackermann
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