Steve Young’s first professional contract was with the Los Angeles Express of the USFL. He made his debut with the Express on April 1, 1984 at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, against the New Jersey Generals. New Jersey’s most recognizable player was Herschel Walker; Jojo Townsell was probably the best Express player besides Young. The Generals won, 26-10, before just 19,853 at Memorial Coliseum. The Express went to 2-4.
Here’s how one newspaper reported Young’s performance: “He completed 19 of 29 passes for 163 yards and at times ran the offense as if he had been a part of it for years. . . . Young, who signed a contract in early March worth more than $40 million over 43 years, took advantage of a breakdown in coverage to pass 9 yards for a touchdown to Jojo Townsell, a former draft choice of the Jets. During one stretch over the second and third quarters, he completed 9 consecutive passes before Kerry Justin, the Generals’ cornerback, made a good play to break up a pass intended for Anthony Allen.”
Steve said: ”I think it’s just a matter of time. I felt pretty comfortable out there. I was throwing the ball pretty well. We just have to get the continuity going. I feel comfortable with what I’ve done, but I’ve got to get better.”
His coach, John Hadl, made an accurate prediction: “Steve is going to be a great quarterback. He went up against one of the best defenses in the league and performed well. I like his leadership. He saw some things on the field that another quarterback wouldn’t see for a year.”
By the way, Brian Sipe, longtime quarterback with the Browns, led the Generals to victory in his fourth start of the USFL season. He said: “This was probably my best game. I felt more comfortable than I have felt so far. And it was nice to see us do a lot of different things. My knee injury was a real setback to me, but each week, I seem to feel more and more comfortable.”
As a service to 49er fans, Steve Young fans, and USFL fans, I’ve hunted down the stats for this game from the L.A. Times archives. Here’s a rundown of the scoring:
And here’s the team box score:
And, here’s the individual stats: