This Wednesday, the latest episode of "Undeniable with Joe Buck" will feature a sit-down with famed Redskins quarterback turned broadcaster, Joe Theismann. Buck's show, now in its second season, allows for "people will see new sides of these athletes," with guests that have included Brett Favre, Mike Singletary, Kerri Walsh Jennings, and Tony La Russa.
Theismann, ever the enigmatic figure who has never shied away from speaking his mind as both a player and a commentator, lends his trademark candor and humor in his conversation with Buck.
I had the opportunity to preview of the parts of the episode and enjoyed hearing some of Theismann's musings, particularly as they related to the Washington Redskins.
When asked by Buck about the role of leadership and respect in the game, Theismann noted that although the players on the team do not need to like their quarterback, they ultimately need to find a way to respect him in order to function cohesively. Additionally, in reflecting on his time as a member of the Redskins, he takes quite seriously the role of respect for the team, city, and fans.
Buck: "Whenever personalities come together on a professional sports team, if they know that their leader, and on any NFL team, the quarterback is the leader, if they know their leader is tough, they're behind you.
Theismann: "They'll go to war with you ... They'll do anything for you. They have to respect you. They don't have to like you. In a position of leadership you're not necessarily running a popularity contest, but I think respect is so important ... I wonder if guys today actually understand how important the game is to us in society and the respect that they should have for the game. Some of the things the players do, they don't have respect for themselves, they don't have respect for the uniform that they wear, they don't have respect for the city they represent, they don't have respect for the fans that are cheering for them and want them to be successful, least of all they don't have respect for themselves when I see some of the things that guys do."
One was particularly noteworthy exchange about his decision to sporting a single bar face mask the majority of his career, which Theismann partially attributes to the peer pressure of following in the footsteps of other legendary Redskins quarterbacks who came before him not only in performance, but also in attire.
Buck: "You went your entire career with a single bar face mask."
Theismann: "Most of it, the first couple of years I had a double."
Buck: "Could you be less protected in an NFL game?"
Thesimann: "Yeah, seven broken noses..."
Buck: "Why the single bar? Just to see your pretty face?"
Thesimann: "Not my pretty face! Two things, and it may sound simplistic but it's true: with the double bar when I hand it off, it bothered me ... It was a distraction. Plus, and this I believe, a little bit of ego, a bit of peer pressure, Billy Kilmer and Sonny Jurgenson both wore single bars. What would I have looked like if I kept the double bar? How could I be a quarterback of the Washington Redskins if I didn't have a single bar helmet?
Theismann acknowledges in an anecdote that his equipment decisions were not without consequence, but that he did not let the adverse effects of the single bar have a material influence (other than for some cosmetic orthodontia) on his play.
Theismann: "For me, my teeth have been knocked out in 1982."
Buck: "You literally picked them up off the field."
Theismann: "Yeah, we were playing the Giants in a critical game in the snow and Byron Hunt came in and and caught me underneath my single bar and knocked my front teeth out. I walked to the sideline and coach Gibbs is standing there and he's going 'Holy mackerel...' and I said 'No, I'm okay I can call signals' [with a heavy lisp] ... We end up winning the game, Mark Mosley kicks a record-setting field goal for us to beat the Giants.
I started that game, I threw three interceptions in the first quarter, and Joe [Gibbs] tells the story of when I walked to the sideline and he's thinking this is a perfect opportunity for me after doing what I did in the first part of that football game to sit down and say I'm hurt, take me out and put the other guy in. Well that wasn't going to happen."
Theismann also took a moment to address the ever-present role of social media for today's players and how it has affected him personally as the pre-eminent expert on leg injuries after his notorious 1985 hit from Lawrence Taylor resulted in a compound fracture of his tibia.
Theismann: "I feel sorry for the players of today, or the athletes of today because there's so much social media. If you say something, it can go worldwide viral right now. Classic example: I'm watching Louisville play a few years back in the NCAA tournament. Kevin Ware breaks his leg. I send a tweet out, 'I'm sorry Kevin Ware broke his leg, hope he's going to be okay.' They played it at halftime of that game. I wind up going to Los Angeles to do the doctor's show, to talk about broken legs, I'm doing morning TV to talk about broken legs."
Buck: "Because you sent a tweet."
Theismann: "Because I sent a tweet ... Now I try and constantly remind these young players today, you have to be careful. That's why I said if social media existed with the group that I played with, there's no telling who would be where today. Which prison we'd be in, I have no earthy idea, I'll tell ya."
Knowing the origins of the "5 O'Clock Club" and the stories from the Hogs Shed from the early '80s, I'm inclined to believe he's correct.
The episode airs on DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse’s Audience Network on Wednesday September 28th at 8pm ET/PT, and should be an up close and personal opportunity to hear from one of the Redskins all-time greats.