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Order the new book, The United States Football League, 1982–1986.

J. William Oldenburg

Los Angeles ExpressBuying the Los Angeles Express from cable pioneers Alan Harmon and Bill Daniels, J. William Oldenburg was seen as a colorful character even within USFL circles. Self-described as a billionaire complete with the nickname, "Mr. Dynamite," Oldenburg cleaned house in L.A., bringing in Don Klosterman as General Manager and replacing Hugh Campbell with head coach John Hadl.

The truth was that Oldenburg was a far cry from a billionaire. A fancy, state-of-the-art California office belied the fact that Oldenburg's company regularly lost money, and much of his cash had come from a savings and loan, which he owned, buying a piece of property he also owned... at a grossly inflated price.

"Mr. Dynamite" lived up to his nickname in fairly short order by signing BYU quarterback Steve Young on March 5, 1984 to the largest contract in professional sports history at the time - an estimated $ 40 million for four years. His spending inflated the Express payroll but failed to lure the fans of Los Angeles.

Just four months later however and "Mr. Dynamite" had imploded - Oldenburg had hit the skids financially and essentially bailed on the Express. Oldenburg never fully recovered, battling lawsuits for years before settling in relative anonymity in the Seattle area. His name would pop up occassionally as the target of yet another lawsuit.