Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins’s professed interest in No. 7, the jersey worn only by Joe Theismann in the history of the franchise, sparked no shortage of opinions last week. After Theismann revealed in a radio interview that he had given Haskins his blessing to wear his old number, which the team never officially retired, a man identified only as Tony on Long Island called into the “Grant and Danny” show on 106.7 The Fan to express his outrage.
“That is buffoonery!” Tony, who suggested Haskins wasn’t deserving of the number Theismann made famous in Washington, shouted. “Nobody can call up the New York Yankees and ask them for Mickey Mantle’s phone number, or Mickey Mantle’s number, because he’s Mickey Mantle!”
Longtime NFL writer Peter King evidently disagrees with Tony’s take. In his “10 Things I Think I Think” section of Monday’s 7,500-word “Football Morning in America” column for NBC Sports, King took a moment to throw shade at Theismann for his role in this inconsequential post-draft saga.
3. I think Joe Theismann even seeming to suggest Dwayne Haskins had to kiss his ring before being rewarded with the number seven jersey in Washington is really weird, and a little bit mindful of the Emperor with No Clothes. Would anyone think that a man with fewer passing yards than Steve Grogan and Jim Harbaugh, with fewer touchdown passes than Earl Morrall and Jon Kitna, with a lower career rating than Kyle Orton and Dave Krieg … should have his number retired? Mark Rypien won a Super Bowl. Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl. Brad Johnson and Jeff Hostetler won one. Come on. The fact that Washington never gave Theismann’s number out for years after his gruesome injury is a nice gesture, I suppose. But it’s silly to think he was an all-timer, the kind of player whose number should never be worn again.
Peter King, Football Morning in America
For the record, it was Haskins who, on draft night, mentioned that he wanted to “talk to Mr. Theismann first before I get [No. 7],” which the quarterback wore at the Bullis School and Ohio State. Perhaps Theismann should’ve just given Haskins his blessing then. That’s kind of you to think of me, Dwayne, but you should really wear whatever jersey number will make you happy.
Instead, Theismann said he was “anxious to sit down and talk” with Haskins about wearing his old number. Two days later, Theismann said he chatted with Haskins on the phone and officially gave him the go-ahead to wear a number that isn’t officially retired.
“I told him it was okay to wear number seven,” Theismann said on 106.7 The Fan. “I’ve given him permission. Not that I felt like I needed to, but he was respectful enough to ask. We had a really nice conversation.”
King’s take, which seems oddly personal, ignores what makes Theismann a Redskins legend while comparing his passing numbers with several quarterbacks who came after him. As Tony on Long Island noted, Theismann led the Redskins to their first Super Bowl win and was named NFL MVP in 1983. He was Washington’s starter for a decade before Lawrence Taylor ended his career on “Monday Night Football.” Theismann still holds the franchise record for completions, passing yards and wins, and if the Redskins were in the habit of retiring numbers more often, Theismann would be on the shortlist of players worthy of being so honored.
As it stands, Washington has only one officially retired number — Sammy Baugh’s No. 33. The team has traditionally “protected” the numbers of other greats, including Sean Taylor and John Riggins, by not issuing them to other players. While Theismann gave Haskins his unnecessary blessing to wear No. 7, the team will have the final say. The Redskins have yet to announce which numbers Haskins and his fellow rookies will be assigned.
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