After winning the Super Bowl in January 1983, Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann made the rounds at corporate events and noticed parallels in sports and business.
“The same words kept coming up in the business world as in the sports world,” he told NY Sports Day.
There was emphasis on achieving goals, the importance of a positive attitude and different departments working together as a team.
“You want to have goals and aspirations,” Theismann said. “Your attitude preceded everything you do in your life.”
His new book, “How to be a Champion Every Day: 6 Timeless Keys to Success” (Radius Book Group), has something for people of all ages and walks of life.
“It’s about people trying to get the most out of themselves,” Theismann said.
The New Jersey native and Notre Dame star seemed to be riding high in 1984 and 1985. The Redskins won the Super Bowl after the 1982 season and Theismann was MVP in 1983, leading a record-setting offense back to the Super Bowl.
In the summer of 1984, he signed an extension that would take him through 1987. His $1 million contract for 1984 made him one of the highest paid stars in the NFL, a far cry from the 10-year, $503 million deal Patrick Mahomes signed with the Chiefs a few weeks ago. Mahomes also bought a part of the Kansas City Royals.
“I sponsored a little league team. Does that make me an owner?” Theismann said.
Theismann announcer Super Bowl XIX for ABC, with even his post-playing career looking set. The QB began to believe the world revolves around him.
“I was Joe Theismann football player. I was Joe Theismann Super Bowl champion. I was Joe Theismann MVP.”
But, as he points out, everything can change at the snap of ones fingers. Or something else.
“Mine was different,” Theismann said. “Mine was a couple of bones.”
It was November 18, 1985 when Theismann tried to get off a flea-flicker pass and Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor broke his leg. He would never play again.
Later on, as Theismann was being loaded into the ambulance, Art Monk caught a long pass from Jay Schroeder in front of him. Head coach Joe Gibbs and the Redskins were already living life without him. At the hospital, when Theismann was taken off the gurney, the staff forgot to pick up his leg and it hit the floor but the endorphins had kicked in and he couldn’t feel it.
“Can Somebody pick up the rest of me?” he asked.
Schroeder led Washington to a game-winning drive that night and the NFC title game in 1986. The season after that, Doug Williams led the Redskins to a Super Bowl title. Everybody is replaceable, even Joe Theismann.
But Theismann was not done and out. He became an entrepreneur, businessman, announcer and TV personality and a motivational speaker.
“It’s people that are important,” he said. “It’s relationships that are important.”
Theismann said it’s important to understand that “we don’t have all the answers.”
In his book, he notes the importance of a support system and that “champions don’t achieve greatness alone.” And that a person should be their own number one fan.
The book ends with a letter he wrote to his younger self, pointing out that while the broken leg may seem like a tragedy it’s actually a blessing.
In the 35 years since the injury, Theismann said fans come up to him asking him if it hurt and others say they’re sorry that he broke his leg.
“That is so sweet but I didn’t break my leg,” he says. “Lawrence Taylor broke my leg.”