Joe Theismann Never Played Again After Suffering Injury to Right Leg

Published on September 11th, 2022 6:11 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Joe Theismann suffered a horrific career-ending injury in 1985. It was November 18th, 1985, and the Washington Redskins were hosting the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.

The Redskins had gotten off to a middling start to the season, compiling a record of 5-5. They had been hot over their past 6 games, however, going 4-2.

Joe Theismann hadn't been particularly good in 1985, as his career was clearly starting to draw to a close. Theismann had thrown 8 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 1985, though the team was winning, so everything was good.


Lawrence Taylor, arguably the greatest defensive player of all time, played for the New York Giants. Taylor was really starting to come into his own, as he posted 11.5 sacks in 1984 and was having a great season in 1985 as well.

Taylor was somebody that Theismann had to keep an eye on, and it would be Taylor that would ultimately end Theismann's career.


It was 7-7 early in the second quarter. The Washington Redskins had the ball at midfield.

The Redskins attempted a flea flicker, with Theismann handing the ball off to the running back, who pitched it back to Theismann.

There was pressure, and "Hollywood Joe" avoided the first defender.

The second defender, however, was Lawrence Taylor, who jumped on top of Theismann, bringing the 36-year old quarterback (and former MVP) to the ground.


Taylor was on top of Theismann, and Theismann was screaming in pain.

Taylor quickly jumped up and motioned to the Redskins' sideline, imploring for them to come and help, as Theismann was badly hurt.

Taylor was extremely upset as help came, as LT saw what the audience at home couldn't see - Theismann's right leg was badly broken, and his bone was actually protruding from his skin.

The rest of the players nearby figured out what was happening as well, and they looked just as upset as Taylor.

Theismann was badly, badly hurt.


Joe Theismann would end up suffering a compound fracture of his tibia and fibula.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Theismann would say that he couldn't feel his leg from the knee down after the injury happened.


The bone in Theismann's right leg never grew back properly, and he was forced to retire at the age of 36.

Theismann would finish his career with 25,206 passing yards, 160 touchdowns, 138 interceptions, a Super Bowl and a MVP award.

Theismann would move into broadcasting, where he would enjoy a long, successful career.


Lawrence Taylor apologized to Theismann multiple times for the hit, but Theismann always contended that LT did absolutely nothing wrong, and shouldn't feel sorry about it.

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