Joe Theismann, in interviews with two Washington television stations, said yesterday, "I don't drink. I've never had a problem drinking," in response to an article in Thursday's editions of The Washington Post based on excerpts from his upcoming autobiography.
Theismann criticized The Post for what he desribed as "a bit of irresponsible journalism, trying to sensationalize something and make headlines out of nothing." Theismann could not be reached for comment by The Post last night.
The excerpt appeared in the August issue of The Washingtonian magazine. In the excerpt, Theismann talked about taking part in the team's "Five O'Clock Club," which he described as a "society of players who convened in a red equipment shed just outside the locker room at Redskin Park . . . Some guys would stop by for one beer on the way home, others would go in and come out a lot worse."
Theismann also said in The Washingtonian excerpt, "I drank my share. I'd go to practice hung over and wonder why I did it to myself. My teeth hurt. Every little noise hurt my head . . . I cut out that nonsense because I couldn't survive that way."
Theismann did not write in the excerpt that he did this "often," as Thursday's Post article erroneously stated because of an editing error. In an interview with George Michael of WRC-TV-4, Theismann said, "a better O-word would have been occasional."
Asked by Michael about his comments in the magazine about his teeth hurting, Theismann said, "That's what I read in the paper today. It doesn't exist in my book. The only place that can be is in the imagination of the writer that obviously runs pretty wild."
Jim Berry, interviewing Theismann on WJLA-TV-7, said to Theismann, "In the excerpt I read, you said, 'I drank my share.' "
Said Theismann, "That's right, I drank my share. Jim, it's an interpretation. What is my share? Mark May is 300 pounds. Joe Jacoby is 350 pounds. What is their share of iced tea?"
Berry then asked him, "If you didn't drink a lot, then why did you bring it up at all in the book?"
Theismann said, "Well, the fact is I tried to make a point that I did occasionally have a drink. I did go to practice sometimes hung over. We all did . . . But the way it's blown out of proportion, the way I see it is that particular article looks like it is a major, major problem. I don't see it that way."
Earlier in the interview with Berry, Theismann said, "Yeah, I had a hangover once, twice, maybe three times in 12 years. I wouldn't necessarily say that puts me in the category of a drinking problem."
As for passages in the excerpt critical of Gibbs, including an allegation the coach was easy on players' gambling and drinking as long as the team was winning, Theismann told Michael, "I think that happens in every organization. I think if things are going well, a lot of times the smaller things are overlooked. Believe me, the book is not intended, nor is anything I say intended, as a personal attack against Joe Gibbs.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for the man and, as he mentioned, we shared an awful lot together and we still are, in my opinion, very close friends and I wish him all the success and luck in the world."