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Joe Theismann

Theismann in September 2003.
No. 7     
Quarterback
Personal information
Date of birth: September 9, 1949 (1949-09-09) (age 60)
Place of birth: New Brunswick, New Jersey
High School: South River High School
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) Weight: 192 lb (87 kg)
Career information
College: Notre Dame
NFL Draft: 1971 / Round: 4 / Pick: 99
(by the Miami Dolphins)
Debuted in 1971 for the Toronto Argonauts
Last played in 1985 for the Washington Redskins
Career history
 As player:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 1985
Pass attempts     3,602
Pass completions     2,044
Percentage     56.7
TD-INT     160-138
Passing Yards     25,206
QB Rating     77.4
Stats at NFL.com
Stats at pro-football-reference.com
Stats at DatabaseFootball.com
College Football Hall of Fame

Joseph Robert "Joe" Theismann (born September 9, 1949 in New Brunswick, New Jersey) is a former Canadian and American football quarterback in the National Football League and Canadian Football League. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003. Theismann currently co-hosts the show Playbook on the NFL Network.

Contents

Early life

Theismann was born to an Austrian father named Joseph John Theismann who ran a gas station and worked in his brother’s liquor store.[1] His mother was a Hungarian woman named Olga Tobias who worked for Johnson & Johnson until her retirement. He was raised in South River, New Jersey, and attended South River High School, where he lettered in baseball, basketball, and football.[1]

Theismann was inducted into the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1997.[2]

College career

Theismann attended and played college football for the University of Notre Dame. He became the starter as a sophomore, after Terry Hanratty was injured late in the season.[3] In the three remaining games in the regular season, he led the Irish to two wins and a tie. In 1969, Theismann led the Irish to a number five ranking and their first bowl appearance in 45 years, a loss to the University of Texas in the 1970 Cotton Bowl Classic, 21-17. The next year, the Irish had a 10-1 record, a number two ranking, and won against Texas in the 1971 Cotton Bowl Classic, 24-11.[3] That year, Theismann was an All-American and an Academic All-America, and was in contention for the Heisman Trophy. Notre Dame publicity man Roger Valdiserri insisted that he change the pronunciation of his name to rhyme with "Heisman", Theisman recounted later,[4] but he finished second to Jim Plunkett of Stanford University.[1][3][5]

Theismann set school records for passing yards in a season (2,429) and touchdowns in a season (16).[3] He also set a school record for passing yards in a game (526) and completions in a game (33) while playing against the University of Southern California in a torrential downpour in 1970, which they lost 38-28.[6] As a starting quarterback, Theismann compiled a 20-3-2 record while throwing for 4,411 yards and 31 touchdowns.[3] His 4,411 passing yards is fifth on Notre Dame's career passing list.[6]

Theisman was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.[3] He was the eighth Notre Dame quarterback enshrined into the hall, joining former Heisman Trophy winners Angelo Bertelli, John Lujack, and Paul Hornung.[6]

Professional career

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Canadian Football League

Theismann was drafted in the fourth round by the Miami Dolphins in the 1971 NFL Draft, as well as Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins in the 39th round of the 1971 Major League Baseball Draft.[7] However, instead of playing for the Dolphins or the Twins, Theismann elected to sign with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. In his rookie year, Theismann quarterbacked the Argonauts to a 10-4 record, led the league's Eastern Conference in passing statistics and won a berth in the Grey Cup championship game in Vancouver, British Columbia versus the Calgary Stampeders (59th Grey Cup). A fumble late in the fourth quarter by Argonaut running back Leon McQuay close to the goal line cost the Argonauts the Grey Cup.

In 1971, he completed 148 of 278 passes for 2,440 yards and 17 touchdowns (with 21 interceptions.) His 1972 season was shortened by injury, but he hit 77 of 127 passes for 1,157 yards and ten touchdowns. During his last season, 1973, 157 of his 274 passes were complete, for 2,496 yards and both 13 touchdowns and interceptions. He was an all-star in both 1971 and 1973.

National Football League

Theismann at practice

In 1974, the National Football League's Washington Redskins obtained Theismann's rights. Determined to make it to the NFL, Theismann left the CFL and joined the Redskins, where he volunteered to be the team's punt returner. In 1978, Theismann became the Redskins' starting quarterback after Billy Kilmer proved ineffective.

Theismann led the Redskins to a win in Super Bowl XVII and an appearance in Super Bowl XVIII and would go on to set several Redskins franchise records, including most career passing attempts (3,602), most career passing completions (2,044) and most career passing yards (25,206), while also throwing 160 touchdown passes, with 138 interceptions. On the ground, he rushed for 1,815 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was the NFL's MVP in 1983. He earned the Player of the Game Award in the second of his two Pro Bowl appearances.

Joe Theismann's NFL rings (2006)

In an era when most quarterbacks had long since used variations of a double-bar facemask (or even triple-bar facemasks) that afforded more protection, Theismann refused to use anything but a one-bar facemask throughout his career. So as not to obstruct his vision, he wore the shorter "snub" version of the cage which did not extend as far from his helmet as the standard one-bar.

Injury

Theismann's career ended on November 18, 1985 when he suffered a gruesome comminuted compound fracture of his leg while being sacked by New York Giants linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson during a Monday Night Football game telecast. The injury was voted the NFL's "Most Shocking Moment in History" by viewers in an ESPN poll, and the tackle was dubbed "The Hit That No One Who Saw It Can Ever Forget" by The Washington Post.[8]

At the time, the Redskins had been attempting to run a "flea-flicker" play. The Giants' defense, however, was not fooled, and they tried to blitz Theismann. Taylor pulled Theismann down and his hip swung over and landed on Theismann's lower right leg, fracturing both the tibia and the fibula. Giants linebackers Gary Reasons and Harry Carson then joined Taylor in the sack.

"It was at that point, I also found out what a magnificent machine the human body is", Theismann said. "Almost immediately, from the knee down, all the feeling was gone in my right leg. The endorphins had kicked in, and I was not in pain."[8]

As Theismann lay on the field, a horrified Taylor frantically screamed and waved for emergency medical technicians. Initially, however, many Redskins personnel thought Taylor's screaming and pointing directed at their sidelines was a taunt over the fact that he had successfully stopped their play. Taylor has said that his animated behavior was largely a claustrophobic reaction to having been trapped at the bottom of the pile that followed his tackle.[9] The Monday Night Football announce team (composed of Frank Gifford, O. J. Simpson and Joe Namath) deduced from the start that Taylor was calling for help.

While initially only the players on the field could see the extent of the damage to Theismann's leg, the reverse-angle instant replay provided a clearer view of what had actually happened – Theismann's lower leg bones were broken midway between his knee and his ankle, such that his leg from his foot to his mid-shin was lying flat against the ground, and the upper part of his shin up to his knee was at a 45-degree angle as the two linebackers brought him down on the sack. The image of his lower leg bending at such an unnatural angle has become one of the most infamous football injury images ever.

The compound fracture of the tibia led to insufficient bone growth during Theismann's recovery, leaving his right leg shorter than his left. As a result, the injury forced Theismann into retirement at the age of 36. Theismann has never blamed Lawrence Taylor for his injury. Taylor has said that he has never seen film of the play and never wants to.

Broadcasting career

In 1985, Theismann helped call Super Bowl XIX for ABC alongside Frank Gifford and Don Meredith, becoming only the second person to do commentary on a Super Bowl telecast while still an active player at the time (the first was Jack Kemp when he helped call Super Bowl II for CBS). Theismann served as a color commentator on regional CBS NFL coverage in 1986 and 1987, then worked on ESPN's Sunday Night Football telecasts from 1988 to 2005, and on their Monday Night Football coverage in 2006.

On March 26, 2007, ESPN announced that Ron Jaworski would replace Theismann in the Monday Night Football booth. Theismann rejected an offer to work on the network's college football coverage. He has since done a number of Washington Redskins pre-season games on CSN.

On September 16, 2009, the NFL Network announced that Theismann would analyze game films on the show Playbook, airing Thursday and Friday nights at 6 p.m. Eastern.

In addition to covering football, Theismann hosted the first half of the first season of American Gladiators in 1989.

Theismann worked with Joe Gibbs and Tom Hammond on the broadcasting crew for NBC's coverage of the early wild-card game on January 9, 2010.[10]

Controversies

As a broadcaster, Theismann has often been criticized for stating the obvious about certain plays, and has given some inaccurate comments about certain plays and players.[citation needed] Before a 2005 game that involved the Redskins, Theismann declared that Redskins kicker John Hall could not make a forty yard field goal, only for Hall to make a forty-seven yard field goal during the game. During a 2005 playoff game in January 2006 between the Redskins and the Bucs, Redskins Safety Sean Taylor was ejected for spitting at Bucs RB Michael Pittman, who retaliated by shoving Taylor. Theismann said about Taylor's ejection, "That was a terrible call!" When the NFL revealed why Taylor was ejected, Theismann declared that it was a great call. During the 2006 season, his lone season on Monday Night Football, Theismann struggled to allow sufficient input by fellow color commentator Tony Kornheiser, who had been previously hyped for his new role.[citation needed]

Ricky Williams

During a May 30, 2006, interview with Toronto radio station The Fan 590, Theismann criticized his former CFL team, the Toronto Argonauts, for signing Ricky Williams to a one-year contract. Williams, a former New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins running back, had been suspended by the NFL for the entire 2006 season for a fourth violation of the league's substance abuse policy. In the interview, Theismann said the Argonauts were a disgrace, and he was ashamed to be associated with them. He also said that Williams is sick but not a bad person. Argonauts ownership responded to Theismann's criticism, noting Theismann's son, Joe, pleaded guilty in 2002 to a felony charge of possessing drug paraphernalia. He received a ten-year suspended prison term, was placed on five years of probation and fined. "It's really a delicate subject for him to attack someone if he has that in his own family", Argonauts co-owner David Cynamon said. "If I was his son and he's calling (Williams) a drug addict and he should quit and he's a loser, I'd be shattered. This thing is really bothersome." The CFL currently has no substance-abuse policy, nor did it prohibit its member teams from signing players suspended by other leagues until the RW rule went in effect for the 2007 season.

Tim Tebow

On February 4, 2010, Theismann said in a radio interview with Jacksonville radio host Mike Dempsey that former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow of the University of Florida should retire rather than enter the NFL draft. Theismann said, "Rock star status preserved," in explaining that he felt that Tebow did not have the skills to be successful in the NFL and would embarrass himself if he entered the draft. Theismann then went on to describe Tebow's mechanics as "poor" and then blamed Tebow's coach at Florida, Urban Meyer and his staff, saying "Obviously at Florida they don't teach throwing the football," and then went on to say that Meyer and his staff have "no clue" as to what is necessary to prepare a quarterback to be successful in the NFL.[11]

Personal

He and his first wife Shari Brown Theismann divorced in 1984. They had three children, Joe, Amy, and Patrick, all now married. Theismann was in a relationship with actress/TV host Cathy Lee Crosby for seven years. His second marriage, to former Miss Connecticut and Miss America Contestant Jeanne Caruso, ended in divorce after three years.

Theismann is now married to Robin Theismann. They have homes in Leesburg, Virginia; Memphis, Tennessee; and the Florida Panhandle.[1]

Theismann is the owner of Joe Theismann's Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, founded 1976.[12]

  1. ^ a b c d Jaffe, Harry (2007-12-01). "Joe Theismann Sounds Off". Washingtonian. http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/people/5845.html. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  2. ^ "Hall of Fame Annual Awards, 1997". New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. 1997. http://www.njsiaa.org/NJSIAA/HOF_years.aspx. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Theismann's College Football Hall of Fame profile". College Football Hall of Fame. http://www.collegefootball.org/famersearch.php?id=90051. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  4. ^ Joe Theismann. (July 31, 2007) (video). America's Game - 1982 Redskins - Joe Theismann. NFL.com. Event occurs at 0:40. http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-films-americas-game/09000d5d8008f8cb/America-s-Game-1982-Redskins. 
  5. ^ "The Winning Margin: Year By Year". Heisman Handbook. Heisman.com. 1970. http://www.heisman.com/handbook/winning-margin.php. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  6. ^ a b c AP (2004-08-12). "Green, Sanders also among inductees". ESPN.com College Football. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=1858262. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  7. ^ "Baseball Draft: 39th Round of the 1971 June Draft". Baseball-Reference.com. http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/index.cgi?year_ID=1971&round=39&draft_type=junreg. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  8. ^ a b Leonard Shapiro (2005-11-18). "The Hit That Changed a Career". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/17/AR2005111701635.html. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  9. ^ Lewis, Michael. The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. W. W. Norton, 2006
  10. ^ Michael Hiestand (2009-12-06). "Gibbs, Theismann to reunite for NBC wild-card game". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/hiestand-tv/2009-12-06-gibbs-theismann-nbc-wildcard_N.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  11. ^ Mike Florio (2010-02-04). "Theismann says Tebow should have retired". NBC Sports Pro Football Talk Blog. http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/02/04/theismann-says-tebow-should-have-retired/. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  12. ^ Paul Attner, Washington Post (Oct 29, 1976) Theismann Plans, but does not wait, for future Milwaukee Journal - Google News Archive.

References

  1. ^ a b c d Jaffe, Harry (2007-12-01). "Joe Theismann Sounds Off". Washingtonian. http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/people/5845.html. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  2. ^ "Hall of Fame Annual Awards, 1997". New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. 1997. http://www.njsiaa.org/NJSIAA/HOF_years.aspx. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Theismann's College Football Hall of Fame profile". College Football Hall of Fame. http://www.collegefootball.org/famersearch.php?id=90051. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  4. ^ Joe Theismann. (July 31, 2007) (video). America's Game - 1982 Redskins - Joe Theismann. NFL.com. Event occurs at 0:40. http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-films-americas-game/09000d5d8008f8cb/America-s-Game-1982-Redskins. 
  5. ^ "The Winning Margin: Year By Year". Heisman Handbook. Heisman.com. 1970. http://www.heisman.com/handbook/winning-margin.php. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  6. ^ a b c AP (2004-08-12). "Green, Sanders also among inductees". ESPN.com College Football. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=1858262. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  7. ^ "Baseball Draft: 39th Round of the 1971 June Draft". Baseball-Reference.com. http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/index.cgi?year_ID=1971&round=39&draft_type=junreg. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  8. ^ a b Leonard Shapiro (2005-11-18). "The Hit That Changed a Career". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/17/AR2005111701635.html. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  9. ^ Lewis, Michael. The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. W. W. Norton, 2006
  10. ^ Michael Hiestand (2009-12-06). "Gibbs, Theismann to reunite for NBC wild-card game". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/hiestand-tv/2009-12-06-gibbs-theismann-nbc-wildcard_N.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  11. ^ Mike Florio (2010-02-04). "Theismann says Tebow should have retired". NBC Sports Pro Football Talk Blog. http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/02/04/theismann-says-tebow-should-have-retired/. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  12. ^ Paul Attner, Washington Post (Oct 29, 1976) Theismann Plans, but does not wait, for future Milwaukee Journal - Google News Archive.

External links

Preceded by
Terry Hanratty
Notre Dame starting quarterbacks
1969 - 1970
Succeeded by
Pat Steenberge
Preceded by
Billy Kilmer
Washington Redskins Starting Quarterbacks
1977-1985
Succeeded by
Jay Schroeder
Preceded by
Mark Moseley
AP NFL Most Valuable Player
1983 season
Succeeded by
Dan Marino
Preceded by
Lesley Bush
Larry Echohawk
Kwaku Ohene-Frempong
Bob Lanier
Mike Phipps
Mike Reid
Silver Anniversary Awards (NCAA)
Class of 1996
Marty Liquori
Thomas Lewis Lyons
Cliff Meely
Kurt L. Schmoke
Joe Theismann
Jack Youngblood
Succeeded by
Tommy Casanova
Jack Ford
David Joyner
Edward B. Rust Jr.
James Tedisco
Herb Washington

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