Theisman: Super Bowl Not Just Another Game
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Yesterday featured two great NFL conference championships which set the stage for the Super Bowl in two weeks: the Indianapolis Colts beat the New York Jets. So they return to the Super Bowl. And the New Orleans Saints make their first appearance in the Super Bowl. They beat the Minnesota Vikings.
It was such a great weekend for quarterbacks, we thought we'd check in with a very good former NFL quarterback, Joe Theismann, formerly of the Washington Redskins, nowadays host of Playbook on the NFL Network. Welcome to the program.
Mr. JOE THEISMAN (Host, Playbook): Thank you, Robert. I appreciate that.
SIEGEL: I want you to talk, first of all, about the quarterbacks we saw in that AFC championship game, Peyton Manning and Mark Sanchez.
Mr. THEISMAN: You had two completely different individuals. One is a four time MVP League and the Super Bowl champion and then the other one is a young man who's just played his 18th football game. So you were at both ends of the spectrum in that game. And the Colts obviously rely so much on Peyton to be able to carry them and he does such a great job carrying them on his shoulders.
And then you had Mark Sanchez on the other side, who the Jets do everything to make sure that he doesnt have to have the responsibility of the success or failure of the football team. So, two different types of approaches, two different quarterbacks, but then again I thought Peyton Manning was just absolutely his usual self, I mean, he plays at such a high level on such a consistent basis.
SIEGEL: Okay, now the NFC Championship game featured Brett Favre, quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings and Drew Brees who, in the post game photos, I can see is a half a helmet shorter than Brett Favre, the great veteran quarterback. What did you think of that game?
Mr. THEISMANN: I thought that was an unbelievable football - and they lived up by believe to the expectations of a shootout early and then it settled into a tremendous defensive battle. Robert, I will tell you this. Ive played 15 years of professional football. I got hurt in 1985. Ive been out of the game some 25 years. So, if you take approximately 40 years of professional football, I have never seen one man take the beating that Brett Favre took yesterday.
SIEGEL: And he's been taking a beating for a long time.
Mr. THEISMANN: He has been doing - I mean, he is 40 years old and he certainly has nothing to prove in anyones mind. He's the toughest guy. He's the most entertaining guy. He is everything to this game. I mean, he really have lifted the spirit of professional football on his shoulders this year with everyone rooting for him.
Drew Brees on the other hand, I didnt think played near to the level that weve seen him play all year - in large part because the Minnesota Vikings defense is that good. I thought the receivers were - they had jelly fingers most of the day. I mean, they never really caught a clean ball. I would expect a much better game from the Saints and a much better performance than we saw, even though they won.
SIEGEL: Let me just ask you one other question. Which statement is closer to the truth, since I guess they're both cliches of watching big football games: number one, the Super Bowl, just another game. They could've played him five weeks, six weeks ago or this is unlike anything else you do, something is phenomenally different about quarterbacking the team in the Super Bowl.
Mr. THEISMANN: It is phenomenally different than anything he has ever done, especially at the quarterback position. The game tends to speed up at each level. I think Mark Sanchez found that out in the game yesterday against the Indianapolis Colts, the young Jets quarterback. He had to get rid of the ball faster. The Super Bowl takes it to another notch. But when it comes to playing the quarter back position, its an interesting dynamic because what you want to do is in your mind the game has to slow down, but basically you know that everything has to speed up. So, it's slow it down in your mind, particularly make it move faster.
I can tell you that it was the single greatest football moment of my life having had the opportunity to walk off that football field and know that all that hard work, all the dreams as a young child had now come true. It is not just another football game.
SIEGEL: Well, Joe Theismann, thanks a lot for talking with us about football.
Mr. THEISMANN: Thank you so much.
SIEGEL: Joe Theismann speaking with us from Las Vegas. He's now the host of Playbook on the NFL network.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.