News & Politics

Three Quarterbacks Walk Into a Bar. . .

Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Theismann, and Jason Campbell spend an awkward evening together analyzing the Redskins season.

Joe Theismann, Jason Campbell, and Sonny Jurgensen talk to Larry Michael at ESPN 980's "A Night of Quarterbacks."

More than 150 Redskins fans gathered at Union Jack’s British Pub in Ballston on Tuesday night to meet two of the team’s most beloved icons—and one of its most beleaguered players. For $98, fans at ESPN 980’s “A Night of Quarterbacks” could down Sam Adams beer, nibble on meatballs and drunken chicken, and put questions to the evening’s guests of honor: Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Theismann, and Jason Campbell.

As fans lined up to pose with the three quarterbacks, Rick “Doc” Walker, tight end for the Redskins 1988 Super Bowl championship team, stood by the bar, biting an unlit cigar. Asked how much of the season’s woes can be put on the management, he replied, “Players win or lose games. This team hasn’t proven to be skillful enough to get the job done.”

Doc placed his stogie in the ashtray and looked us in the eye when asked about the fan fracas at Fed Ex Field, where stadium security have confiscated critical signs directed at the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, or its top executive, Vinny Cerrato. “I don’t like anything that is restrictive,” he said. “But as a player, if a fan says something that crosses the line, I’d like to kick his ass, so I understand why [management is] doing it. The sign of a good fan base is how you react to the bad times. Once you only start cheering for wins, you become a Cowboys fan.”

We caught Joe Theismann as he got a jump-start on the buffet line. “Look, we’re all Redskins fans, and people have a right to be disappointed and frustrated, but they need to reevaluate their expectations for this team,” he said. When asked if ticket-holders should be allowed to voice their frustration of Snyder and Cerrato in the stadium, he said, “I don’t agree with what’s happening at all. I think that fans have every right to show their disapproval of the management, but I do know that Dan Snyder is the most disappointed Redskins fan of all.”

Following the photo ops, the quarterbacks took a seat on stage and fielded questions from the night’s MC, Larry Michael of ESPN 980, which is owned by Snyder. Michael introduced Jurgensen and Theismann as “living legends”; he described Campbell as “honest.”

Asked to name the hardest thing about being a quarterback, Campbell said, “When it’s going well, you get a lot of the credit. But when it’s not, you get a lot of the blame. You have to have tough skin.” Theismann came to Campbell’s rescue, saying, “When Sonny and I were playing, it was easier because there wasn’t so much media. Now, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s tougher.”

Jurgensen, who has been critical of Campbell—and even urged coach Jim Zorn to bench Campbell in favor of veteran Todd Collins—chimed in with a friendly jab at quarterbacks today. “Football used to be a player’s game,” the 75-year-old began. “Quarterbacks controlled the action. Now it’s a coach’s game. We didn’t have bingo callers sitting up in a booth drinking a Coke and eating a hot dog telling us how to play.”

Fans aimed their questions at Campbell, who talked of how football today is more of a business than it was when Jurgensen or Theismann played. “With so many big paychecks these days, maybe guys lose sight of the Skins’ tradition. Maybe there’s less effort. Guys now feel like they can get away with anything because there are no consequences.”

Following the event, a mob of fans swarmed Campbell, who lingered even after the other two left. He signed every football, hat, and poster pushed on him. After Campbell posed for a picture with a father and his son, the man looked at him and said, “Thanks, Jason. Hope to see you back here next year.”

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