MIKE PESCA, HOST:
And now to the game where we ask someone who's done great things to do something dumb. It's Not My Job. Steve Young is a Hall of Fame quarterback. With BYU, he won the award for the best quarterback in college. He was signed by NFL rival league, the USFL, to the highest total contract ever paid to a player. He went on to win an MVP award in a Super Bowl for the San Francisco 49ers. And yes, he became the first left-handed quarterback ever voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His new book is "QB: My Life Behind The Spiral."
Steve Young, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
PESCA: So keeping in mind all the glory I mentioned, I want to go back to high school. You know, in high school, we're all a little awkward, we're all a little unsure of ourselves. Let me read from the book, quote, "in addition to being starting QB, I was the point guard on the basketball team, the best pitcher on the baseball team. I had a 4.2 GPA. I was a member of the honor society. I never missed a day of school. I was dating the head cheerleader. By the way, that cheerleader would go on to win the Miss USA competition, beating Halle Berry." Steve Young, why should we not hate you?
STEVE YOUNG: No, I was somebody that always went to school.
YOUNG: I got good grades. I played sports. And so I think if you take it all in its totality, it seems like it's a big deal. But you know what? In high school, you would just do what you normally do. So I had no idea that looking back it would sound like that.
PESCA: So after high school, there was Brigham Young. And the newspapers had a great time pointing out that you are, in fact, the great-great-great-grandson of the actual Brigham Young, and of course, the 4.2 average in high school and one of the best quarterbacks in America. So the question here is, is it possible you were the easiest decision a college admission committee ever made?
YOUNG: (Laughter) It's another thing, in retrospect, seemed so obvious. But the truth was, no one knew until it was - I started to play for the team. And then the outside press said, oh, my gosh, you're related to Brigham Young. No wonder you're playing quarterback. And I was like, no one cared until then. In fact, no one knew my name. The head coach, when he found out, he said, oh, your last name's Young?
P J O'ROURKE: To be perfectly fair, Brigham Young was dead by then. So it wasn't like he, you know, had - wielding a lot of influence...
YOUNG: Exactly. And it's pretty common name too, you know?
FAITH SALIE: So, Steve, you're the great-great-great-grandson of Brigham Young. You're a stand-up guy. I understand you wouldn't even drink beer in high school or college. You were guzzling milk. But when you're on the field, like, you know, professional athletes are famous for talking smack to each other and using a few, you know, foul words. So did you ever curse when you were on the...
SALIE: Oh, you did.
SALIE: OK, good. You're human.
YOUNG: But I also - some of the funnest (ph) conversations are that when you can let people know you really mean business without using curse words. It's actually a nice challenge, try it. Next time you are just - mad...
YOUNG: ..Try not to swear. And see, how can I communicate the same thing? And see if you can make the effect. It's been - it's difficult, especially on the football field. But it's a fun little project.
PESCA: Do you think it's easier to make your point without cursing as a quarterback in the NFL when you have Jerry Rice to help you make that point?
YOUNG: Yeah, that's exactly - you don't need to swear. I'd just point at Jerry Rice.
PESCA: So you leave BYU one of the best quarterbacks. But you play for the USFL, which was the rival league to the NFL - the LA Express. Now, they sign you for $40 million, which you know gets hyped as the biggest contract ever. So from what I understand, though, it really wasn't $40 million, was it?
YOUNG: No, no. And you guys would appreciate this because this is more finance rather than sports.
YOUNG: The fact is, is that the contract was an annuity funded by, I would say, a million dollars, which is a lot of money. But that million dollars over 50 years, in annuity payments, totaled $40 million. And so I was touted in the newspaper as the $40 million man. At the time, Magic Johnson was making $25 million over five years.
YOUNG: And so I went around the league as the $40 million man, this outrageous amount of money, which I understand. But I kept telling - it was famously my mom in the stands because she had never gone to a pro game, the fans were merciless. Forty million down the drain. Forty million down the drain. The whole stands were chanting it. Finally, my mother couldn't take it anymore. She turns to the crowd, these horrible men that are saying this, and said, it's not 40 million, it's an annuity.
SALIE: And that's an example of getting angry without cursing.
YOUNG: There you have it. That's perfect.
PESCA: So the U.S...
YOUNG: She just baffled them. Everyone in the crowd goes, what's an annuity?
PESCA: Now, you did say, OK, your USFL team was better than your NFL team. But to be fair, your NFL team was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I mean.
YOUNG: (Laughter) Well, I'm just telling you, that people want to say the USFL was a joke, the football wasn't. The crowds were. The crowds were so small in Los Angeles and so quiet I had to move the huddle back and whisper because the defense would hear me.
SALIE: OK, you guys. This is what we're going to do.
YOUNG: Seriously, everybody quiet.
PESCA: Yeah, well, Steve Young, we've asked you here to play a game we're calling...
YOUNG: Oh, no.
BILL KURTIS: Not so great, great-great-grandson's.
PESCA: So as we've heard, you're, in fact, the great-great-great-grandson of Brigham Young. We wanted to ask you about grandsons who didn't doing quite live up to their famous forefathers.
PESCA: If you answer these questions about grandsons who shamed the family name, you will win a prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Steve playing for?
KURTIS: Jane McDaniel of Concord, N.H.
PESCA: All right, you ready to play?
YOUNG: I'm - I'm ready to play.
PESCA: All right, here is your first question. The grandson of China's Chairman Mao was made the youngest general in that country's army a few years ago. But there were a lot of complaints about him, specifically his calligraphy. Which of these is a real quote criticizing his calligraphy? A, I can't read this, it's like it's written in Chinese.
PESCA: B, his grandfather could use his foot and still write better than him. Or C, it's sometimes not absolutely great. That's as critical as I can be without being sent to a prison camp.
YOUNG: Oh, I'm feeling B.
PESCA: B is correct, yes.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL, APPLAUSE)
PESCA: It is true. Chairman Mao was great with his foot, I tell you. All right, here's your next question. Wealthy oil magnate J. Paul Getty's grandson was kidnapped. After some back and forth with the kidnappers, he agreed to pay part of a $3 million ransom. But he didn't want to pay the whole thing, why not? A, he said he'd pay $2.2 million because that was the maximum he could deduct on his taxes; B, he paid 2.8 million because that was all the cash he had lying around the house at the time; or C, he said he'd pay 50 percent because he could only stand to be around his grandson about half the time.
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE: Awe.
PESCA: Well, it might be fake, guys.
MO ROCCA: Or D, he offered an annuity.
YOUNG: I'm going to say A. I'm going to say the tax deduction...
PESCA: It is. It is A. Yes.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL, APPLAUSE)
PESCA: He wanted the tax deduction.
PESCA: And for your last question, instead of a disappointing grandson, we have a truly great one - Eric Olson. During Hurricane Matthew, with the phone lines down and emergency services busy, Mr. Olson was so worried about his grandma he took what bold and decisive action? A, he had her paged every hour at her favorite bingo facility until she actually showed up; B, he used the password to her fantasy football team to see that she had been making roster changes since the hurricane hit; or C, he had a Papa John's Pizza sent to her house so the delivery guy could confirm she was OK.
YOUNG: I kind of liked the B. I like the idea of kind of reverse engineering the internet, but I don't know.
SALIE: I think the audience wants to be your lifeline here, Steve.
YOUNG: Yeah, I think I'm going to reach out for C...
PESCA: Are you going to listen to the boo birds in the crowd...
YOUNG: I'm thinking C.
PESCA: C is correct.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL, APPLAUSE)
PESCA: Police and fire couldn't do it. But Papa John's got there in 30 minutes and put the cell phone to her ear, Eric Olson told ABC.
PESCA: Bill, how did Steve Young do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Through the uprights for 3 points.
PESCA: Congratulations, Steve. You did it for Jane McDaniel. She has the voicemail outgoing message. Thank you for that.
YOUNG: Beautiful, beautiful. It was a pleasure (unintelligible).
PESCA: Steve Young is a Hall of Fame quarterback and the author of the new memoir "QB: My Life Behind The Spiral." Steve Young, thanks so much for joining us.
YOUNG: This was great. It was fun.
ROCCA: Thanks, Steve. Thank you...
SALIE: Bye, Steve...
O'ROURKE: Thank you, Steve.
(SOUNDBITE OF JOHNNY PEARSON SONG, "HEAVY ACTION")
PESCA: In just a minute, Bill has some stinky health tips. It's the Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
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