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The Man With The Golden Arm
Jack McCallum
March 12, 1984
The Los Angeles Express came up with a 43-year, $36 million package to lure Steve Young to the USFL
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March 12, 1984

The Man With The Golden Arm

The Los Angeles Express came up with a 43-year, $36 million package to lure Steve Young to the USFL

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?Young has an endorsement deal with the State Savings and Loan Association of Salt Lake City that will pay him $100,000 per year for the four years of the contract. The arrangement should be good for State Savings since Young is the biggest thing in Utah since his great-great-great grandfather, name of Brigham. Oldenburg is chairman of the board and sole owner of State Savings.

?Young's alma mater will benefit from a $180,000 contribution by IMI to its scholarship fund, spread over 20 years.

"I don't want to look like I'm money-hungry," Young said Sunday. "That's not what I based my decision on. Look at my alternative, the NFL—living in Cincinnati and sitting behind Ken Anderson. Who knows if I'd get a chance for three or four years?"

Klosterman, who as a former general manager of the AFL Houston Oilers is a signing-war veteran, began laying the groundwork for signing Young late last year. He persuaded the rest of the USFL to leave Young to the Express, which was picking 11th in the league's Jan. 4 draft. "I simply pointed out that we're the second-largest market and that whatever's good for us is good for the league as a whole," says Klosterman.

The Express began demonstrating how much it wanted Young by tailoring a number of personnel moves specifically to him. They signed Young's best friend from BYU, tight end Gordon Hudson, to a lucrative two-year deal (worth about $265,000 per year) even though Hudson will spend this season rehabilitating an injured knee. And on Feb. 13 they signed three linemen who were expected to go in the first two rounds of the NFL draft—Oregon guard Gary Zimmerman, Texas center Mike Ruether and Baylor tackle Mark Adickes. (Adickes suffered a knee injury in the Express' 21-14 loss to Birmingham on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season.)

On Feb. 21 Klosterman took Young and Steinberg to San Francisco to pay a call on Oldenburg. His offices occupy two upper floors of a building at the end of California Street with a breathtaking view of the Bay. As Young, Steinberg and Klosterman got off the elevator at IMI, they were greeted by personalized messages running across a huge board that normally contains stock quotes. Young's said: STEVE YOUNG, MR. BYU, MR. UTAH, MR. EVERYTHING.

Later, Oldenburg, a self-made billionaire and a private man who is rarely interviewed, agreed to talk to a reporter in his office. He was asked why he was spending so much time on Young; after all, he hadn't even met Tom Ramsey, his current quarterback.

"Well, I look at it this way," he said. "I hired Don Klosterman, who drives the bus from here to here. Then, Don hires [coach] John Hadl, who drives the bus from here to here. Then...." At this point Oldenburg put two fingers in his mouth and let loose a piercing whistle. "Now, what's that?" he said.

"That's the opening whistle," the reporter guessed, "and that means a quarterback like Young drives the bus from here to here."

"Right!" screamed Oldenburg, hauling the reporter to his feet, pounding him on the back, tapping him on the face and, finally, embracing him. "Now you got the idea!

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