FORT BENNING, Ga. — Super Bowl-winning quarterback and current NFL Network analyst Joe Theismann is going to help take Fort Benning “BRAC: To the Future.”
The legendary Washington Redskins quarterback is scheduled to appear at Friday’s festival, a post celebration marking the end of Base Realignment and Closure, which merged the Infantry and Armor schools here under the Maneuver Center of Excellence. The event takes place from 1 to 9:30 p.m. on York Field in front of the newly renovated MCoE headquarters at Building 4.
Theismann will be at a tent visiting with Soldiers, civilians and family members. He’ll also help register people for a chance to win tickets to the Nov. 12 Army-Rutgers game at Yankee Stadium. Five winners will be drawn.
“Going to Fort Benning for me will be like going to RFK Stadium during my playing days. That’s exactly how I feel about the opportunity to go down there and be around everybody in that environment,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “I have such great admiration and respect for our military, our men and women in harm’s way around the world, for what they do. The term ‘hero’ gets thrown around in the sports world an awful lot. We’re not heroes — we are people who have been blessed with physical gifts.
“In my opinion, the Soldiers out fighting to defend our freedom, knowing what’s at stake, knowing they could be killed or wounded, and still doing their job, they’re the heroes. I’ve always believed that.”
Theismann spent 12 seasons in the NFL, all with Washington, where he was a two-time Pro Bowler and led the Redskins to a 27-17 win over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. He set several franchise records, including most career passing attempts (3,602), completions (2,044) and yards (25,206). A three-year starter at Notre Dame, Theismann was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to both win a Super Bowl and lose one,” he said. “When you win, it’s the most incredible experience in the world. When you lose, it’s like someone tore your guts out.”
After retiring in 1985, Theismann began a career as a sportscaster. He worked on ESPN’s Sunday Night Football telecasts from 1988 to 2005 and on its Monday Night Football coverage in 2006. He’s now at the NFL Network as a color analyst and co-hosts its weekly Playbook show.
“The thing that’s different about what we do at NFL Network is we really focus on taking fans deep inside the game,” he said. “We use terminology to describe aspects of the game that coaches use in meetings, that players and coaches use to communicate with each other. It’s a little different than some of the other shows out there.
“Things have become very competitive for networks, TV ratings, social media and radio. But there’s no question, the NFL is America’s sport now. For years, baseball could claim it. No doubt, football rules the roost in America.”
Theismann played three seasons in the Canadian Football League before entering the NFL. He said winning the Super Bowl in 1983 was special, but it’s not the highlight of his career.
“The game that stands out the most for me was Jan. 31, 1983 — the NFC Championship Game. We played Dallas at RFK Stadium for the right to go to the Super Bowl,” he recalled. “They had set up aluminum seats in certain parts of the stadium for the overflow crowd. Toward the end of the game, the fans were banging their feet on the stands so hard that you could feel the ground shaking.
“Playing your archrival, with everything at stake for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. It was two titans of the game, two heavyweights going at it. That was an unbelievable football game for me.”
Theismann attended the Redskins’ home opener this season against the New York Giants with former Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell.
“I get so excited when I get around military people,” he said. “I travel a ton. When I’m in airports and I see someone in uniform, I always walk up and say ‘thank you.’ It’s important for them to understand the people of this country really, really care about them. What they do does not go unnoticed. The commitment and sacrifices they make and their families make does not go unnoticed.”
Theismann is the spokesman for a sports nutritional supplement called Surgex. He said it’s the official product used by U.S. Military Academy athletes at West Point.