If quarterback Joe Theismann's broken leg ends his career, he will be eligible to receive about $1.4 million from a Lloyd's of London insurance policy he bought approximately two years ago, according to sources close to the Washington Redskins.
Although Theismann said yesterday he had not made a decision about his future and probably would not until he meets with Coach Joe Gibbs before training camp opens July 20, it remains doubtful he will be physically able to play football in six weeks.
Theismann, 36, recently stopped playing racquetball and tennis because, he said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, "the chances of my being able to hurt my leg again were good."
The only sport Theismann is able to play right now is golf, he said. He can throw a football, but he can't drop back. He said he still cannot run.
"If I was to hurt this leg again, there are 1,000 things that could go wrong," Theismann said. "To come this far and then get hurt again was something I wanted to avoid."
Dr. Charles Jackson, the Redskins' team doctor, said if he had to make a decision today, he "would not let" Theismann play football.
"The amount of healing it takes to play football is tremendous," Jackson said. "It is remarkable to have him out there with the ability to do what he can do, but still, it requires a recovery even more remarkable to be able to play professional football. It takes a bone to be very resilient. I'd like to see some reorganization of the bone so that it can take some impact."
Theismann did not pass his physical during minicamp last month, according to the Redskins' medical staff. He did not participate in minicamp, nor team meetings.
"Joe Gibbs, Redskins coach and I discussed it, and we agreed I knew the system well enough so I didn't have to participate," Theismann said. "He knew I had tried to get out of the meetings the last several years to go to Europe anyway."
Theismann's next physical is scheduled for July 20 at training camp at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. If he does not pass it, he would not be allowed to play.
Theismann acknowledged that he is running out of time to prepare for the season.
"Medically, it may not look real good, but why not let the rehabilitation run the gamut before we make a decision?" he said. "I realize people can say, 'Geez, it doesn't look good.' That's right. . . . Maybe logic would say I won't come back, but I refuse to give in to logic until I'm presented with the evidence. Then I'll make my decision.
"I'm still hoping. I'm always the optimist. I've never shunned hard work, and I'm not going to now. I owe it to myself to try and do it."
Theismann refused comment on the insurance policy. But Terry Atkins, an information officer for Lloyd's of London, said that he "tracked down the underwriter in this case" but that the company would "neither confirm nor deny" it issued a policy to Theismann.
If Theismann cannot play, sources said he would receive $1.4 million if, in the opinion of several doctors, the compound fracture of the tibia and fibula he suffered in his right leg against the New York Giants last November ended his career.
It is believed that at least three doctors, including Jackson, would be consulted by Lloyd's.
Many professional athletes have similar policies, according to several players' agents. Theismann reportedly obtained his policy sometime after the Redskins' second consecutive Super Bowl appearance in Tampa, January 1984.
The existence of the policy presents Theismann with the ironic prospect of being eligible to make more money this year by not playing than by playing.
He signed a two-year contract in January that paid him a guaranteed signing bonus of more than $1 million regardless of what happens. It also includes a base salary between $500,000 and $650,000 a year, if he makes the team, and a bonus of more than $600,000 a year if he is on the active roster all season.
If Theismann plays and is on the Redskins' active roster every game this season, he would be the highest-paid player in the National Football League.
The sum of Theismann's base salary and roster bonus is approximately $1.2 million.
"I want to play football," he said. "I've dedicated myself to returning more than ever before. I'm obligated to make a decision before I go to camp, but I'm going to try to take it as close as I can before I make that decision."
If Theismann cannot play because of physical problems, he would receive $65,000 of this season's salary, according to a provision in the players' collective bargaining agreement. He would not receive any of the rest of his contract, except for the signing bonus.
If he went on injured reserve, he would receive the base salary, but not the roster bonus.
If he retires from the game, Theismann most likely will become a color commentator for NFL telecasts on CBS or NBC. Both networks have expressed strong interest in hiring Theismann for this season.
Since being injured on a sack by Lawrence Taylor in a game against the Giants on Nov. 18, Theismann has maintained he wants to play. But all indications are that the Redskins view Jay Schroeder, who led them to a 5-1 finish to their 10-6 season, as their No. 1 quarterback.
In March, the Redskins said they had talked to four teams about trading Theismann, but they did not make a deal. In April, Gibbs said a trade was unlikely.
Previously, Theismann and Jackson said the recovery was way ahead of schedule.
"For the average person, my recovery is great," Theismann said. "But I'm not an average person, so, for me, the recovery is good. Let's say it's continuing to heal, and leave it at that."
Jury selection began yesterday in Honolulu in the trial of Redskins second-round draft choice Walter Murray, University of Hawaii wide receiver charged with trying to bribe a police officer with football tickets. The trial, by a circuit court jury of 12, is likely to last a week.