My guest today is the legendary American footballer
Joe Theismann, who retired from the game in 1985.
Joe, what is your earliest sporting memory?
Joe: Playing sport, day in, day
out, in South River, New Jersey, the little town
I grew up in, population 8.000.
I lived two blocks from my high school.
There were tennis courts, baseball fields and
American football fields attached, and I was down
there participating in sports almost from the
day I could walk.
The first recollection I have of a major sporting
occasion was going with my father to see the New
York Giants play.
I was 12. The Giants were a great side then.
Interviewer: Which sports did
you play when you were growing up?
Joe: Well, there was baseball.
In fact, I had a chance to play professional baseball,
but l turned it down to play football.
And I did all kinds of athletics when I was growing
My family hadn’t been professional sports people.
My Dad was a boxer in the army and my abilities
to do the things I could probably came from my
They worked hard and sacrificed so much for me,
taking me to sporting events I was competing in.
Interviewer: Why did you choose
a life in sport, and if you hadn’t, what would
you have done?
Joe: Sport was what I grew up
It was the only thing I knew and all I wanted
I had no desire to do anything but participate
I was blessed with athletic ability and I wanted
to make the best of what I had.
I was always told that I was too small, too skinny,
too slow, not tough enough, and I never ever believed
what people told me.
That has stayed with me.
I’ve always said don’t let anyone else control
At the University of Notre Dame, I majored in
sociology and business, but I never really thought
of how those subjects would lead to any kind of
Interviewer: What was the toughest
part of your sporting life?
Joe: Leaving it, so suddenly,
with no chance to prepare for it.
At 9 p.m. on November 18th 1985, I was one of
the best known professional football players in
America, and at 10 p.m. I was a hospital patient
with a compound fracture of my leg, my career
I realised suddenly that you become an afterthought.
It is so hard for people to understand.
No matter how great, or how talented you were
at sport, the next great one is already sitting
there waiting to take your place.
It took me a good three years to adjust mentally
to being away from the game.
But I was lucky enough to get into broadcasting
— perhaps because I was never afraid to speak