Tuesday, we outlined Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff not returning this coming season for Washington Redskins radio broadcasts. As mentioned in the article, Huff, 78, had shown signs of decline in recent years, often mispronouncing names, and not understanding rules.
While I argued that Redskins’ fans should remember Huff as an inseparable part of the team’s famous radio triumvirate with Sonny Jurgensen and Frank Herzog from the glory years of the 1980s and early 1990s, the decision to not retain him was not a surprise. Nor should he be the first person who publicly announced his candidacy as a possible replacement.
Yes, any longtime Redskins fan knows Joe Theismann never encountered a camera or microphone he didn’t like. Criticized for “over complicating,” matters with his long-winded style, Theismann is usually inclined to use 200 words when two will do.
Of course, Red Zebra Broadcasting, which owns ESPN 980, has indicated they will likely go with just Jurgensen and Larry Michael in a two-man booth. However, they have left the door open for a third person in the booth on select broadcasts, with Red Zebra VP of Programming Chuck Sapienza noting “money wouldn’t be an issue.” Sapienza noted that “chemistry,” would be the bigger consideration.
But let’s face it: when Sapienza says “chemistry,” he means chemistry with Jurgensen — a silent yet, incredibly powerful figure in this whole matter. And with regards to 2013, if there was a clear candidate and/or someone available Jurgensen wanted, this would be a three-man booth. And the clear candidate would be Theismann.
Sure, he is considered something of an arrogant, nauseating windbag by some. Still, Theismann remains if not beloved in Washington, certainly respected. He, of course, was the quarterback of the Redskins’ Super Bowl XVII championship team. Also, while he had a reputation as something of a “pretty boy,” Theismann did show a rough and tumble side. He returned punts his first two years with the Redskins and famously led the team to a comeback victory against the New York Giants in 1982, after getting two teeth knocked out.
At minimum, Theismann is considered the second-best living Redskins quarterback behind Jurgensen.
He has also remained close to the team since his career ended with the gruesome injury on Monday Night Football against the Giants on Nov. 18, 1985. Furthermore, he boasts an impressive broadcasting resume, having formerly done Sunday ESPN NFL broadcasts, Notre Dame radio broadcasts and most recently Redskins preseason telecasts. The chatty former quarterback maintains a very good relationship with team owner Daniel Snyder, and at 63, remains as always, in fabulous shape.
At minimum, Theismann would head the short list of candidates to replace Jurgensen or ultimately fill in as the third man in the booth; a list that includes former players Rick “Doc” Walker, Chris Cooley, Antwaan Randle-El, Charles Mann and Brian Mitchell.
The wild card, of course, in this whole matter is not the candidates, but the man they would replace, or possibly have to work with in the short-term, Jurgensen.
Remember, it is well known Jurgensen and Theismann have never taken well to each other. Theismann, in fact, has acknowleged this on record, noting he and former teammate Jurgensen “never had much of a relationship.” Contrarily, Theismann has always spoken somewhat reverently about former quarterback Billy Kilmer, who served as Jurgensen’s backup in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Jurgensen, as he is known to do, has simply steered clear of articulating an opinion regarding Theismann either way. Certainly, Jurgensen has never exactly gone out of his way to establish a cordial relationship with Theismann.
So, it’s not surprising Theismann took his desire to be considered public. We all know Theismann likes his name in the paper, and likes to hear himself talk. It’s also well known Theismann was incredibly disappointed after being unceremoniously released by ESPN a few years back.
But I have a feeling something more was motivating the former quiarterback; something that was certainly not going to come from Jurgensen.