Today in Sports History: November 18th, 1985 Joe Theismann Career Ending Injury

By Sam CoombsJoeTheismannPractice(CMYK)

It was Monday Night Football and the Washington Redskins were facing huge NFC rivals the New York Giants in a packed full stadium. The score was 0-0 and the Redskins had the ball. Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann lined up under center and got the snap. The play was a flea flicker trick play attempt handed off to John Riggins and pitched back to Theismann that was unfolding to really go no where. Theismann was being blitzed from the blind side by Giants players Lawrence Taylor and Gary Reasons as he was trying to extend the play. In the blink of an eye things would change forever for Theismann.
On this play Theismann was sacked by Taylor who was one of the NFL’s best defensive players and immediately after the tackle fans could tell something was wrong. Taylor lept to his feet screaming for help from the sidelines. As the replay showed on tv, it left the commentators squeamish because of the extent of what happened to Theismann. As Taylor tackled him, Theismann’s leg got caught underneath Taylor and essentially snapped in half because he wasn’t prepared for the extent of force from the tackle. This was because it came from Theismann’s blind side.
At the time of the injury Theismann was 35 years old and it seemed like this could be a career ending injury for him. It was going to take a lot to come back from this type of an injury. Theismann said in an interview “I remember everything that happened that night. Coach Joe Gibbs came up to me and said, Joe this is a heck of a mess you’ve left me and we both laughed. It was a light moment in a very tense situation.”
This would indeed turn out to be the last play Theismann would ever be a part of and his career was over. This injury changed the game of football and made the blind side be the most important position on the offensive line. Teams typically put their best and highest paid lineman on that side to reduce plays like this from happening. Although Theismann would be upset in this moment he went on to say, “I got a standing ovation as they wheeled me off and I knew then and and there that whatever Joe Theismann was, had died. It was a rebirth of a person that grew to appreciate people a lot more and this was a defining moment in my life.”
This injury is know as one of the worst in NFL history and was even feature in a movie called the blind side and it showed the importance of protecting that side of the field. Joe Theismann finished his career playing 12 season with the Washington Redskins, with 2 pro bowl selections and a Super Bowl victory.

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