How things would have been different on the NFL landscape if Joe Theismann had signed his 4th round offer from the Miami Dolphins in 1971 instead of with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. He certainly wouldn’t have wound up with the Redskins that he infamously guided back to NFL glory and a Super Bowl Championship. Most fans don’t recall Theismann even playing in the CFL, helping the Argos to a CFL Grey Cup game, and himself to All-Star Honors in ’71 and 73.
The Redskins shrewdly obtained his rights in 1974, and he quickly joined the team. Unable to crack the starting lineup, he quickly lined up as the Redskins’….. punt returner. Theismann took some time to assert himself as the team’s lead quarterback, as Billy Kilmer and Sonny Jorgenson both finished out their careers. George Allen was notorious with sticking with his seasoned vets, but eventually Joe found himself running the show. He’d lead the Redskins to a victory against the Dolphins ironically in Super Bowl XVII and a return appearance the next season against the Raiders. Joe would win the NFL Offensive MVP award after the 1983 season. The Redskins played in the NFC Central with the Eagles, Giants, Cowboys, and Cardinals. During Theismann’s tenure in Washington, every team in the division took their turn going to the Super Bowl (with the exception of the Cardinals), which illustrates the dominance of the division in the league during this period. It appeared that the Redskins were on their way back to glory again under head coach Joe Gibbs, but Theismann’s career took a detour.
On a Monday Night Football contest in 1985, Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor blindside sacked Theismann, snapping both his tibia and fibia. (In the annuls of NFL history, it is considered one of the most gruesome hits ever sustained by a player.) Joe’s playing career was over, after 71 consecutive starts, but this didn’t take his focus off of football. Theismann has become a color commentator since then, spending time primarily on ESPN. Love him or hate him, Joe gives it his all whatever he does. He spends an immense amount of his time giving to charity, including the donations he gets from autographs, that he gives to St. Jude. Joe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003 for his playing time at the University of Notre Dame. While playing for the Golden Domers, he set various school records for passing in a season, and threw for an incredible 526 yards in one game in 1970. He also still holds many of the Redskins passing records- some 25+ years later.
He bought a stake in the UFL Florida Tuskers in 2010, but the team and the league did not use his high profile personality to promote the team or the league. The Tuskers moved later that year to Virginia and became the Destroyers, and the league itself folded in 2012. You can visit his website at www.joetheismann.com .
CFL Att 679 Comp 382 Yds 6093 Pct Td 40 Int 47 Rat N/a
NFL 167/124 Att 3602 Comp 2044 Yds 25206 Pct 56.7% Td 160 Int 138 Lg 84t
Rush 355 Yds 1815 Avg 5.1 Td 17 Lg 37