Sometimes the mind just won't behave. You order reason; out pops: "Theismann drops back to pass. He's rushed hard again by Mo Siegel, the 5-foot-8 veteran from Emory who sacked him three games ago. His protection now includes a couple of 150-pounders, Joe Blair and Charlie Taylor, but they're firing out with abandon. Joe looks over the coverage, cocks his arm and . . . oh, no! Here comes Sonny Jurgensen from the blind side."
These athlete-media squabbles are such a delight. One week a 61-year-old television commentator throws the Redskin quarterback for a loss, of words, and this week the Redskins have been quietly passing the word that another of Joe Theismann's critics, Sonny Jurgensen, was not quite General Patton in battle.
Jurgensen is being hammered from all sides.
"One week," he was saying yesterday, "I'm criticized for not asking tough enough questions (by columnist William Taaffe) and the next week the Redskins put out a press release on me."
Not quite a press release, said Blair, the team's public relations director.
But there were facts released to the press that surely stung Jurgensen like one of Larry Wilson's safety bitzes. Numbers that damn Jurgensen for failings he now attributes to Theismann. And the team.
All this seems to have begun harmlessly enough, with reporters inquiring about the last time the Redskins were off to such a dreadful start (1965) and who the quarterback of that 0-5 bunch was.
It was Jurgensen, with his El Pro body and all-pro arm.
The statistics are immediately obvious: Sonny's Redskins scored 47 points during those season-starting five losses in '65; Joe's Redskins have scored 77 points during these season-starting five losses in '81. Nice irony. A hard needle well -- and fairly -- thrown.
Then the "Notes Regarding Sonny Jurgensen" got nasty. Blair and Taylor reminded us that the Redskins did not win consistently until Billy Kilmer became the regular quarterback and that Jurgensen started just 11 of 56 games "when the Redskins began their upswing (under George Allen)."
Good taste demands that Jurgensen's real age (37) and football age (73) during Allen's first season be added, that it be noted Jurgensen lost his starting status to Kilmer only because of injury that season (1971) and that he nearly always replaced Kilmer after a Redskin loss.
I would wager that if Allen, given a shot of truth serum (and what an adventure that would be), were asked to choose between a healthy Kilmer and a healthy Jurgensen he would take Jurgensen. Still, one prominent Redskin blocker did say during the Sonny-Billy fuss: "I'd rather block for Billy."
That was partly because of Jurgensen's quick exits after games, when he left teammates to explain loss after loss after loss. Not exactly sterling leadership qualities. Some of the me-first attitude we often sense in Theismann.
"My ability was questioned throughout my career," Jurgensen said. "That's part of the job. I think it was in '65 (and Blair agreed it was) that Edward Bennett Williams benched me. He called me in and said: 'We gotta shake up the team. It's too early to fire the coach.' He also said benching somebody from the defense, or an offensive lineman, wouldn't have the desired results.
"I said: 'wouldn't that exonerate everyone else?'
"He said: 'Yes, but it'll shake up the team.'
"So they went with (Dick) Shiner, stuck me on the bench. And when they got down, 38-0, they came to me and said: 'Okay, it's your turn.' I said: 'What do you mean? This is your decision. Don't give me 38-0.' "
Did Jurgensen play the good-scout team player? Did he go in under those humiliating circumstances?
Jurgensen hardly is the only media person suggesting Theismann's mind might be too slow to execute Joe Gibbs' fast-break, read-and-react offense. That puts Theismann in the same company as Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach, who eventually overcame such "dumb" charges by winning Super Bowls.
Great teammates always increase the quarterback's IQ.
Unlike the rest of us, critic Jurgensen has the credibility of nearly two-score years of quarterback service in the NFL. If Sonny, from his press box perch, can't recognize a man throwing into double coverage, who can? Who is better qualified to recognize a flat Redskin team?
The general manager, Bobby Beathard.
Jurgensen's Monday public remarks were no more demeaning than Beathard's Sunday public remarks. The general manager had volunteered: "from the very beginning (against the 49ers), there didn't seem to be a helluva lot of intensity."
Perhaps the Redskins' reaction -- and Blair and Taylor are supposed to deflate and deflect criticism whenever they can -- came after open-mouthed surprise at Jurgensen's sudden journalistic instincts. Teams expect television personalities to talk a lot without saying anything, but all of a sudden Sonny was seen slamming home some salient points.
Over and over, Theismann has said: "We're still learning (the Gibbs offense)." Some of the rest of us probably should have done what Jurgensen did Monday: call such as Charger Dan Fouts and Cardinal Jim Hart, who worked under Gibbs, and ask how complex the system is.
It isn't all that demanding, Sonny told their former coach they said.
Some of Jurgensen's motivation in criticizing Theismann might be personal, but he threw a reportorial touchdown pass Monday. He was less harsh yesterday.
"With the injuries," he said, "they've had to put somebody new in with Joe just about every week. When he gets the (injured) players back, he'll improve on execution. He's gonna develop -- and I'm sure Gibbs wants -- more consistent judgment, because the offense is based on judgment."
Staggering a bit from his past being re-examined in public, Jurgensen said: "They (the Redskins) should write me a script."
They'd like to. --