Former Super Bowl quarterback and 1983 NFL Most Valuable Player Joe Theismann provided the keynote address, “Game Plan for Success,” at the opening day of the International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
In his address to roofing contractors from across the United States, Theismann talked about the lessons he learned on the football field and how they helped him succeed in the business world.
Theismann, an ESPN broadcaster and business entrepreneur, also told contractors about strategies for succeeding under pressure and adapting quickly to unexpected situations.
In an exclusive interview with Roofing Contractor, Theismann, 61, who makes his home in Memphis, Tenn., said the relationship between the world of sports, the world of business and personal lives are very similar. And though he did not officially work in the roofing or construction industry, his father did.
“My father did put a hammer in my hand and had me build things when I was young,” Theismann said. “I’ve put a few nails in the roof on our farm and ranch properties. I prefer to leave the roofing jobs to the professionals.”
Theismann told Roofing Contractor his career as a professional athlete is similar to the roofing and construction industry.
“Both careers have trials and tribulations, you have to overcome adversity, you go through tough times, you have to be disciplined to be successful, you have to be motivated to do the job properly, you have accountability in both professions, and teamwork is essential,” Theismann said.
Many remember Joe Theismann for winning the Super Bowl in 1983, but perhaps just as many remember him for a horrific leg injury he sustained during a game that ended his football career.
“The high point of my career was winning the World Championship came in 1983 in California and playing in the 1984 World Championship,” he told Roofing Contractor. “The dream that I worked so long and hard towards was accomplished and it was better than I could have imagined.
“The low point of my career was actually not when I broke my leg,” he continued. “It was the opening game against the Cowboys on September 9, 1985 in Texas Stadium. I threw 3-4 interceptions and we were beat by the Cowboys 44 to 14. At the end of the game, the entire Texas Stadium (62,292 fans) sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me for my 36th birthday. Talk about humiliation.”
Theismann said he decided not to feel sorry for himself after the injury. “I set goals, changed my attitude and decided to work on my relationship with people,” he said. “I was a self-centered maniac. When the injury occurred, it forced me to look in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw. It’s been 25 years since my injury and I realize that it saved my life.”
Theismann said there are winners, but not just in sports. “To have a chosen career and succeed in this manner, there’s nothing better than that,” he said. “A winner is certainly not industry specific, if you’re great to your family, you’re a winner, if you dedicate yourself to being the best person you can be, you’re a winner. It’s not all about you. It’s not what you can take in life; it’s what you can give back.”
Theismann broadcasted Thursday Night Football for the NFL Network and is also the owner of the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League. “I represent four different organizations; nutritional supplements, high school athletes, insurance, spokesman for AAA (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, my dad was diagnosed with this 5 years ago) and I’m on the Sports Advisory Council in Memphis, Tennessee,” he said. “I own Joe Theismann’s in Alexandria, Virginia; it’s been open for 27 years.
Still, Theismann said he does not portray himself as a hero. “I don’t see myself as a hero; heroes are the soldiers fighting for our freedom, police officers, firefighters,” he concluded. “I see myself as a role model and I feel like I have the obligation to my fans to be a role model in the public eye.”