Everyone hates ESPN broadcaster Joe Theisman. There's a lot of reasons to hate him. In college, he changed the pronunciation of his last name so it would rhyme with "Heisman", to improve his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy. (He did not win.) As a broadcaster, he is reluctant to criticize any player, but quick to credit various coaches for anything and everything that occurs on the field. If his producers and the FCC allowed it, Joe would fellate an offensive coordinator on-air.
Theisman also likes to use "football" as an adjective, as if fans might forget what sport they're watching without a reminder. "This is a football team that needs to just go out there and make some football plays if they want to win this football game." Last year, Joe said that he thought Jim Haislett of the New Orleans Saints should win the Coach of the Year award. At the time, the Saints were 2-8.
Let it be known that there was once a moment where Theisman was a competent announcer. Maybe the moment didn't last long, but the accompanying video shows that for at least three minutes and sixteen seconds in 1987, Theisman was at the top of his game and damn near psychic. In a move that recalled Tony Kubek predicting Johnny Bench's intentional walk fakeout in the 1972 World Series, Joe called the 49ers amazing comeback minutes before it happened.
Joe was working as a color man for CBS when the 49ers came to Cincinnati to play the Bengals. In the fourth quarter, the Bengals had the ball and a six-point lead, with just seconds remaining. Even though it was fourth down, Coach Sam Wyche decided to go for the first down, rather than punt from his own 30 yard line. Theisman saw this was a bad idea right from the start. Joe told America he'd have given Bengals QB and future obnoxious broacaster Boomer Esiason this advice:
"Boomer, I'll tell you what I want you to do. I want you to take the snap from center...I want you to run around a little bit, then run out the back of the end zone, give up the two points, and the clock will run out. And then, worst comes to worst, they have to punt from the twenty, and there's no time on the clock. If they just take the snap from center, it is conceivable that San Francisco could wind up getting one more play. And from the thirty yard line - who knows what's gonna happen?"
What does happen is Boomer hands off, and the 49ers stop the ballcarrier for a four yard loss. The Niners get the ball at the 25 with two seconds remaining. Just as Theisman speculated minutes earlier, Joe Montana throws a touchdown pass to Jerry Rice, and the 49ers win an absolutely shocking game. The Cincinnati fans boo their team off the field. San Francisco Coach Bill Walsh skips off the field. A stopped clock is temporarily right. And for what may have been the last time in his broadcasting career, Theisman gets some well-deserved kudos from his partner.
"Joe Theisman, I gotta give you absolute full credit for recognizing not just the situation, but what the strategy should have been on the part of [Sam] Wyche," he says. Unfortunately, the video ends before we can hear if Theisman credits the 49ers' offensive coordinator with calling such an effective football play.