32 Years Ago This Week: Joe Theismann’s Leg

If you follow this blog, you know Scott has been a football fan for as long as he can remember. He talks about some of his earliest memories being of sitting on his father’s knee as Coach Sigler reviewed films of his team’s games. It’s no accident that the Galactic Football League grew out of Sigler’s scifi and sports soaked brain.

Me? I wasn’t really a football fan until Sigler forced me to pick a team in 2009. “Have to root for someone,  have to have a team.” So, I picked the New York Jets on a whim. Or so I thought. As it turns out, just like so many other fans, I was probably strongly influenced by my family’s football fandom, even though I didn’t know it. My brother is a Jets fan, even though I distinctly remember how he loved the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers. (Heck, even today I know that team included “Mean” Joe Greene, Lynn Swann, Donnie Shell and Terry Bradshaw. I couldn’t tell you why they were so important to Jude way back when, but he talked about them enough that I remember their names.)

My stepdad Jake (aka my Fairy Stepfather™ for how much goodness and grace he brought to our family) is also a Jets fan. More than that, he’s a fan of the whole game. He is a true blue member of the Gang Green Nation (the Jets Fandom) but is also the type of fan who is happy to watch whatever game is on TV once his team is done.

This is how it came to be that on the day of one of our very first meetings we were watching football on TV. My brother was super excited to have someone to watch football with; my Mom was excited her kids were getting along with her beau; and I was pretty excited about the massive sausage and cheese plate that Jake had prepared for Monday Night Football. (Hey, a girl’s got to know her strengths!)

And just about as soon as it began, my nascent football fandom was crushed. Or, more precisely, broken just below the knee. A quarter into the game, New York Giant Lawrence Taylor crashed into Theismann on the 42 yard line at RFK Stadium. The hit broke the two bones in Theismann’s lower right leg, with one of them breaking through his skin. It was a career-ending injury for the Washington Redskins’ quarterback, and unsurprisingly put the brakes on my interest in football.

While I don’t think anyone could blame me (I was a 14-year-old girl convinced that she would someday meet and marry John Taylor from Duran Duran afterall) I think I’m just as surprised as anyone that I remember so much of that moment so vividly.

It would take 24 more years for me to come back to the sport through the Galactic Football League. I ended up bonding with my Pops not over football, but rather over science fiction, and his abiding love for Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, which certainly helped when the football/scifi crossover THE ROOKIE came into my life.


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