A crazy story about how the Cardinals almost landed Steve Young

(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images) Steve Young
(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images) Steve Young /
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Arizona Cardinals
(Photo by MIKE FIALA/AFP via Getty Images) Steve Young /

Cardinals not getting Steve Young extended years of futility

What happened after Steve Young found out he was potentially being traded to the Cardinals? Young’s agent, Leigh Stenberg, called Hugh Culverhouse and threatened that Young would retire if that trade happened.

Alas, Culverhouse called Bill Bidwill and the Cardinals and canceled the trade. Young went on to be traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a second and third-round pick.

The Green Bay Packers were the other team that put their hat in the ring for Young in 1987, but they drafted Don Majkowski that year, which led, in turn, to Brett Favre replacing him, and the rest is history.

Young went on to win three Super Bowl rings with San Francisco, but none bigger than the team’s Super Bowl XXIX smashmouth victory over the San Diego Chargers, where Young famously proclaimed, “Get the monkey off my back!” referring to his ability to win a ring without Joe Montana on the roster.

It’s also ironic (for lack of a better word) that the Cardinals ended Young’s career after basically restarting it for him. Aeneas Williams laid a hit on Young so hard during a Monday night game in 1999 that it was the signal for the quarterback to hang up the cleats.

Steve Young, Green Bay Packers – just get to the Arizona Cardinals already!

Once again, context reigns supreme. Green Bay and San Francisco both won Super Bowl rings in the 90s. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay selected quarterback Vinny Testaverde (who became the original journeyman signal-caller) with the first overall pick in 1987, and the Cardinals selected Kelly Stouffer out of Colorado State with the No. 6 pick in a stunner.

According to some draft experts, Stouffer was viewed as a second or even a third-round pick, and the selection was considered a reach at the time.

However, Stouffer came in at 6-foot-3 and he ran his 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, making him (at the time) probably the most athletic quarterback the Cardinals had ever drafted.

But it gets worse. Bill Bidwill was the team’s de facto general manager at the time. Bidwill had a history of being cheap and this was made clear when he was the first NFL owner to demand public funds be used to build a new stadium.

Unfortunately, Bidwill played it cheap with Stouffer’s contract negotiations as well, and it led to a holdout by the rookie quarterback.

To stay ready for the NFL, Stouffer would spend his time in his tiny hometown of Rushville, Nebraska, a town of just over 1,250 people at that time.

First, Stouffer would work out for two hours each day in the morning. Then after the practices had concluded at his high school for the day, he would throw 100 footballs into the curtain of the stage that overlooked the gym.