Well, it appears that Joe Theismann has gone and pump-faked Washingtonians out of their Docksiders. His career with the Redskins wasn't an open book after all, as everybody figured, with him providing the day-by-day narration. The sly rogue saved some spicy stuff for his memoirs.
"Theismann" isn't so hot your fingers will blister turning each page, judging by that cover-story excerpt in The Washingtonian. And there evidently is not even a word, let alone a chapter, about ex-wife Shari, whom he referred to as "that particular person" in a Channel 7 interview.
Still, this is the first Redskin smooch-and-tell; words by craftsman Dave Kindred, thoughts by Theismann. With Theismann calling all the signals, "Theismann" seems nowhere near as revealing as it could be.
Or should be, unless it fleshes out a few items that merely serve as a tease in the excerpt. That reference to drinking, for instance. It runs a whole five sentences, 38 or 40 words, depending on how you view contractions:
"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."
It begs some questions. Did Theismann report for duty with the effects of a snootful only now and then? Or were his teeth and head hurting on a regular basis?
The excerpt doesn't say.
His buddy, Mark May, told Christine Brennan of The Post: "In the five years I have known him, I can count on both hands the times I saw him drink a beer. . . . I once took a six-pack to his house and drank a beer before I left. I came back two weeks later and five cans of beer were still in his refrigerator."
Theismann took offense at Brennan for dealing with the issue more completely than "Theismann" had. He seemed sincerely angry during an airport remote Thursday with Channel 7's Jim Berry, although that free publicity also will fuel interest for the book.
To Channel 4's George Michael, Theismann said that graphic stuff about his teeth hurting "doesn't exist in my book." It does, so the author got scooped in his own book.
Co-writer Kindred said the reference to Theismann's drinking was so brief because that's all it deserved. He added: "If Joe had a drinking problem, it would be in the book. It would be there in big type."
If the Washingtonian piece is a fair capsule, Theismann is quite candid about that with which he chooses to deal. He flatters Joe Gibbs, and also shows the coach as too driven to visit him in the hospital after that career-ending broken leg Nov. 18, 1985.
Short work week, you know.
To some, dwelling on that seems petty. Perhaps. I consider it a telling tale about a man who genuinely cares, but has been caught up in the pressures of a high-risk job he does exceptionally well.
"Theismann" on Gibbs is fresh and balanced; "Theismann" on Theismann the gambler ranges from confessional to typical-Joe amusing.
"Until 1984, I had a serious problem with gambling, as close to an addiction as anyone outside Gamblers Anonymous ought to get. . . . Gambling was my way of being a big shot. . . . I hid my problem from everyone, including myself . . .
"I could not not gamble."
He couldn't win, Theismann said, and proceeded, unintentionally, to reveal why. The dumb-dumb isn't smart enough to realize how a football game can be fixed.
"No gambler has ever approached anyone I know to fix a game," he said. "Only four or five people seem to be in the position to do it. The quarterback is first. A kicker is next. Then a wide receiver, a defensive back and a running back.
"These people handle the ball. They put points on the board -- and could keep points from going up."
That's true. But they also would be too obvious. Linemen are the key, Joe, not you glamour-guys. One offside, on a critical third and short, and a couple of holds would do the trick, with much less suspicion.
Cathy Lee Crosby cured his gambling habit, Joe insists. She got stern, saying only a few minutes into a casino: " 'Go ahead, bet it all. You're going to lose it all, anyway. You might as well lose it quickly so we can move on to something more fun.'
"When she said that," Theismann wrote, "something snapped and I have had control ever since."
Theismann takes some shots at Redskins teammates -- and also rips himself a bit. If anyone else had full say about the title, "Theismann" might have been changed, perhaps to The Washingtonian's zinger: "Me and My Big Mouth." Or "My Life with Me."
But as long as Joe is Joe, the book surely will be a good read. He was an enormously gifted athlete whose misfortune was to follow two peerless Redskin passers: Sammy Baugh and Sonny Jurgensen. He seems a cinch to do well in his second life as a television personality.
For those of us in search of sporting wisdom, a stop by Theismann's locker was a must. He was charming and expansive after games -- and available even when he played miserably.
Gibbs is now acting testy toward Theismann, because "Theismann" is getting to be a distraction in an otherwise dull first week of training camp.
Who would have thought a quarterback absent from the team for 18 or so months could get the coach so touchy? For us neutral sorts, a couple of Joes in a spat is welcome farce in a too-serious summer.
"I'm not going to read it," Gibbs said. "I'm not going to buy it." Pity. He probably could learn lots from it.