I figure people already know, or can find elsewhere, an awful lot about Steve Young. But, I’m not sure how widely available the details of his debut USFL game are. So: the game was on Sunday April 1, 1984, at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. Young, who had signed with the L.A. Express a few weeks previously, quarterbacked them to a 26-10 loss to the New Jersey Generals, featuring Herschel Walker and quarterbacked by Brian Sipe. Steve threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Joseph “Jo-Jo” Townsell late in the second quarter, but also threw an interception off a deflection, to Generals’ nose tackle Tom Woodland. Young went 19 of 29 for 163 yards on a mix of nothing but short passes. Young also ran 6 times for 32 yards to lead the Express in rushing, and was sacked twice, losing 11 yards. The attendance was 19,153, and Herschel Walker’s 50-yard touchdown on a screen pass was probably the greatest highlight. The Los Angeles Times relegated the story to an inside article in the sports section, and accompanied it with an analysis by Bob Oates, who said Young didn’t throw hard enough to be a great quarterback and criticized his flat-footed stance for throwing the ball. Oates added that Young needed to learn to scramble “only as a last resort” and should always slide at the end of his runs.
Afterward, Steve said: “What’s a good saying? How about ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.'” And: “This is only one game. You’ve got to keep it in perspective. I’ve got a lot of years left to go.”
Express coach John Hadl commented: “He saw some things out there that another quarterback wouldn’t see for a year. He’s an exceptional young man. Steve’s a natural born leader.”