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Theismann talks NFL’s roughing the passer rules, young QBs

Joe Theismann takes part in a promotion at Live! Casino. (PhotoGraphics/Thomas E.Briglia)

HANOVER, Md. — Joe Theismann swears his arm is not that good anymore.

Maybe that’s why Live! Casino owner David Cordish, who invited Theismann to compete in his latest promotion, felt alright challenging a former professional athlete in the actual discipline in which he competed. It’s one thing to putt against John Daly or shoot free throws against Shaq. But throwing footballs against a former NFL quarterback?

“He probably would have had a distinct advantage if he asked me to punt, because I have a one-yard punt average in the NFL,” said Theismann, which is true – his lone NFL punt (against the Chicago Bears in 1985, when Jay Schreoder was injured, went exactly one yard).

Perhaps, then, Cordish might have had a shot.

“Well, you know, I knew he’d be a gentleman and keep it close, which he did,” said Cordish.

With five throws each, Theismann netted $30,000 to Cordish’s $18,000 for the promotional giveaway to all in attendance. Theismann also took some time to weigh in on the state of the NFL, particularly the league’s new roughing the passer enforcement and the next generation of signal callers.

If anyone could be forgiven for wanting more rules that protected quarterbacks, it would be Theismann, given the devastating compound fracture that ended his career. But he wasn’t thrilled with the early-season trend.

“You kneecap the defenses. You handicap them right away. And this is what the NFL has done,” he said. “They want to stress security, they want to stress the ability for guys not to get hurt. So they take it to an extreme and then they dial it back.”

When we spoke, it was just a few weeks into the NFL season, and the extreme number of flags in the first few weeks began to come under control by Week 4. After 33 combined flags throughout the first three weeks, there were just 20 in the next four weeks.

“They did the same thing with the helmet rule – they took it to an extreme, they instituted a rule, they saw how it worked,” said Theismann. “Nothing really works the first time. I mean, we still haven’t figured out what a catch is, to a degree… I think eventually we’re going to get this worked out where we’ll protect the people we want to protect, and yet give the fans a chance to cheer.”

He’s also enjoyed watching the new crop of young quarterbacks, with a particular focus on the Chiefs’ sensational second-year passer.

“Well, you’d have to be not watching TV to not realize that Patrick Mahomes is something special in Kansas City,” Theismann said.

And while he mentioned a few of the rookies already starting for their teams, he pointed out that there ought to be a few more high-profile vacancies to fill in the near future.

“When you stop and think about it, you’ve got guys like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers – there’s four football teams that, in the next two or three years, are probably going to be looking for more young guys,” said Theismann.

At this point, Cordish piped in — “I’m available…and I’m cheap!”


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