Letters, phone calls and unsolicited brickbats from readers . . .
FRED HUETTE, Washington - "I don't know why it is, but you sportswriters get into some of the most spineless ruts imaginable. I'm almost willing to forgive the rounds of hosannas that Washington writers passed on to Howard Cosell last month, even though it was some of the most gawdawful trashy writing I've read in a long time.
"But will you guys PLEASE get off Joe Theismann's back! It's not enought that Joe admitted he had a rotten game against the Giants; and I can imagine the howls that would have gone up if the Post and Star had decided to discover that fact instead of being told by Joe himself.
"No, you had to go and stick the knife in with the following: 'Theismann admitted his failing, but the confession did not produce any more points . . . What kind of backbiting tommyrot is that?
"Everyone had bad days, including yourself, I'm sure. Joe has hit a slump, and nobody seems to know quite why. I would suggest you watch him a little more carefully. I contend that he has consistently underthrown in the last three games, and I feel that he has changed his delivery for some reason, like a pitcher or batter who unknowingly adjusts his stride, windup or whatever and hits a bad slump.
"That is a job for Joe Walton to correct, of course but perhaps he is missing something obvious like the rest of us.
"So, get off Joe's case, man. If you ask me, he has a lot more class than Billy, and given some more time, could be as reliable as Kilmer and maybe more effective. I just don't think Kilmer can carry the Skins for four quarters any more, although I'd like to see him in there more often to give Joe a spell.
"I'm not trying to get you angry, but I did think you were out of line. Best of luck and keep trying."
Comment: For the last three months, this tommyrotting typewriter has consistently praised Joe Theismann, once shouting in the moments after the Dallas game, "Yes, Joe Theismann is the man." I hope he recaptures the touch that made him so brilliant then, and I think he will. As I wrote Thursday, he has played himself onto the bench "for the moment."
JEFF IRWIN, Fairfax - "How can you say Billy Kilmer ought to be the quarterback? He's old and banged up. Joe won six straight games for us and we're 6 and 2 right now. That's better than anybody had any reason to expect.
"And now you're saying he ought to go back to the bench, just like he did under George Allen. Don't you see that we need Theismann? The teams that get to the Super Bowl are the teams with a mobile quarterback. Look at them, guys like Fran Tarkenton and Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw.
"This is just the same old stuff we went through with Sonny Jurgensen and Billy. Allen ruined Sonny's career and now Jack Pardee is doing the same thing to Theismann. They lose two games in a row with Theismann and Pardee benches him.
"That's sure no way to build up Joe's confidence. Ken Stabler threw four interceptions against the Seahawks and Terry Bradshaw had 20 chances to win that TV game the other night and blew them all. But those guys are still playing. They're not benched right away.
"Theismann [has] done a great job this year and he doesn't deserve this kind of treatment from Pardee."
Comment: Of Super Bowl quarterbacks. Ken Stabler and Craig Morton are as immobile as they come.
RALPH CATE, Frederick - "Billy Kilmer may be 'Dr. Pressure,' but he is not the answer to our offensive problems any more than Joe T. is. We have two backup QBs. The Redskins need to realize, more than any other one thing, that neither Joe nor Billy is going to take us to the Super Bowl.
"Secondly, there is a glaring defensvie weakness against the run - on the left defensive side. Detroit, Philadelphia and New York have really shredded Coy Bacon, Diron Talbert and Chris Hanburger.
"Thirdly, there is a glaring weakness at left defensive corner. Joe Lavender is consistently involved in 'big plays' that kill the Skins."
Comment: If Jack Pardee has proven anything this season, it is that he is a cold, calculating coach. He cut Lenny Hauss and Rusty Tillman, benched Ron McDole, Kilmer and now Theismann. He knows why better than we can imagine. He certainly isn't doing it out of emotion.
FRANCES HARRIS, Arlington -
"I'd like to take exception to your statement that 'Billy Kilmer isn't pretty.' Boy, he's a good-looking man. You said his face was red. When I saw him in a hospital this summer, he had the most gorgeous tan. And that smile! Listen, son, I'm 56 and Billy is 39, but if I was younger and wasn't a married grandmother, I'd be interested in that guy."