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He's No Longer The Talk Of The Town
Bruce Newman
September 03, 1984
With a new lady on his arm and a bigger contract in his hand, Washington's Joe Theismann, who was once known as King Quote, is now strangely silent
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September 03, 1984

He's No Longer The Talk Of The Town

With a new lady on his arm and a bigger contract in his hand, Washington's Joe Theismann, who was once known as King Quote, is now strangely silent

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?"Success ruined our marriage. Or perhaps Joe's inability to handle that success. He lost his values."

?"Our marriage went up and down with his career.... It's the celebrity's prerogative whether to bring the family into his success. We shared the downside more than the success."

?"Joe's the eternal egotist.... After he won the Super Bowl in '83, he had all these speaking engagements and got a part in this new Burt Reynolds movie [Cannonball II]. If there was a place he could stick his name, he would do it.... He's been on a marathon for the last two years to see how fast he could go, how much he could do, how fast he could do it. Joe likes theater. Joe likes the limelight. He likes the accolades, loves the applause, needs the audience."

?"I know what I want," she concludes. "Not someone who gives me 100 percent. Just someone who loves me as much as they love themselves."

In most other cities, the marital miseries of even the most prominent local athlete probably wouldn't make headlines. But in Washington, where the quarterback for the Redskins exerts a peculiar hold on the local imagination, Theismann is the object of a fascination that is the equal of anybody in town above cabinet level, possibly including the Great Communicator himself. "It took Joe 10 years to earn the respect and adulation he has in Washington," says Michael. "You have to understand that he isn't the most loved of all Redskin quarterbacks. There are a lot of people who've never accepted him. And for the quarterback of the Redskins to split with his wife is definitely not cool."

Over the past season, Theismann had also been hot over his Smurf-sized contract, a deal that reportedly paid him a paltry $315,000 in '83. "Joe was always fighting last year to prove he was the best quarterback in the league and that he deserved a new contract," says Murphy. "I think the contract situation has had an impact [on his decision not to talk]. He knew that John Elway and Warren Moon—guys who were really unproven—were getting big contracts, and it bothered him." During the off-season, the Redskins and Theismann agreed to a two-year extension of his contract at a reported $600,000 a season.

No one knows exactly how long Theismann's silence will last, or whether, if he has another bad Super Bowl, he might hold his breath until his face turns blue. What's clear, however, is that people in Washington are getting a little restless waiting for their quarterback to talk to them. As one local columnist put it, "This town loves the Redskins, but nobody wants a cigar-store Indian calling signals."

Theismann with nothing to say? No comment? Not even one word? Say it ain't so, Joe.

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