Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 18, 1985: Like a car crash

WASHINGTON - It's easy to find if you want to. A simple search on YouTube, or really any online video site. It'll be there. Go ahead and watch if you want to. A lot of people have, most of them multiple times. Most who watch it never forget it. A lot of them never want to see it again.

The New York Giants weren't fooled by the flea-flicker in that game. Why would they be? Boasting one of the best defenses of the era, one that would almost single-handedly lead them to the championship the next season, the Giants weren't easily fooled by any play. But a flea-flicker against a heavily blitzing team? In retrospect, it seems ludricious.

Of course, hindsight is 20-20. It's easy to see Lawrence Taylor jumping up and down screaming at the Redskins' bench while Joe Theismann lay injured and say "maybe the Redskins shouldn't have run that play." The ill-advised flea-flicker that Taylor blew up in the backfield ended up being the final play of Joe Theismann's career.

At first, the Redskins thought Taylor was taunting them. Why else would he jump up after a sack and scream at the bench? But then the truth began to sink in. Taylor was calling for help. Theismann wasn't getting up. One look, and everybody could see why.

At first, the television cameras didn't show what happened. It looked like Theismann got the pitch back from the running back, got hit by Taylor, and fell awkwardly. Then the Monday Night Football crews showed the reverse angle. Oh, the reverse angle. The one that showed Taylor's body start to swing around as he brought Theismann to the ground, the one that showed the entire weight of Taylor's body falling on Theismann's lower leg, the one that showed the compound fracture. The replay that the producers showed over and over and over again.

It was the repitition that made it the worst. Seeing an injury like that was bad enough, but to keep showing it was just sickening. Sure, ABC had to kill time while the trainers tended to Theismann, but couldn't they have cut to commercial or something? Did they have to keep showing it?

Theismann was an NFL MVP, a Super Bowl champion, and holds most Redskins career passing records. Taylor was an NFL MVP, a two-time Super Bowl champion, and is considered one of the best linebackers of all time. Both, however, are most remembered for the play where Taylor met Theismann in the backfield, and Theismann's lower leg snapped.

Taylor has said that he has never seen the video of that play, and that he never will. It's hard to blame him. Nobody who saw Joe Theismann's career end on Monday Night Football will ever forget it.

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