Young still raking in big USFL bucks?

Quarterback Steve Young #8 of the Los Angeles Express
Is Steve Young taking the Express to the bank?
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Tully Corcoran

Tully Corcoran spent seven years covering the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas Jayhawks for The Topeka Capital-Journal. His work has been honored multiple times by The Kansas Press Association. He most recently wrote for FOX Sports Houston and FOX Sports Southwest. Follow him on Twitter.


Update: Young says the story is a myth.

"We never funded the annuity. The owner was so crazy, it had to stay in his name for 45 years," Young told Dan LeBetard on "Highly Questionable". "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. The whole idea of the annuity is false advertising."

Steve Young, you sly devil, you.

The long and short of it is that Young, the Hall of Fame quarterback who last played in the NFL in 1999, is still making millions of dollars to "play football" on account of a hilariously backloaded deal he signed with the USFL in 1984.

What happened was, according to this fascinating story at, the USFL and NFL got into a bidding war over Young, and since USFL teams didn't have contract limits, they won a lot of those battles.

The USFL's Los Angeles Express threw $40 million at Young, which adjusts to $90 million in today's money and was at the time the largest player contract awarded in pro sports.

Naturally, Young accepted. Also naturally, the Los Angeles Express did not exactly have $40 million in cash laying around, so they structured the deal as an annuity, spread out over 40 years.

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The five-year deal was 100 percent guaranteed, included $4 million up front, and paid him between $200,000 and $400,000 over those five years.

That left $30 million, which the Express agreed to pay over a 37-year span, beginning when Young turned 28 and ending when he turned 65. The Los Angeles Express will pay Young $1 million in 2014 with the payments escalating each year until the deal finally runs out in 2027, with Young earning $3.17 million.

The Los Angeles Express, of course, has not existed since 1987. That hardly matters, though, because Young's agent had insisted the contract be insured, same as any other annuity.

Current 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, by the way, is making $840,000 this year.

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