November 15, 2019

Joe Theismann Scores Business Touchdowns at MILK Business Conference

 |  By: Portia Stewart

Monday Night Football, Nov. 18, 1985. Washington Redskins Quarterback Joe Theismann says he was in the middle of a lousy season, and he wasn’t playing well. Maybe you saw it on TV. 

Theismann distinctly remembers walking into the locker room, sitting down in his locker for a heart-to-heart with himself.  

“I sat down and I stared at the locker wall. I said, ‘All right Joe. It's the Giants. It's Monday night TV. This is going to be your opportunity to show the world that Joe Theismann is back,’” he says. 

As he exited the locker room, he hit the Redskins logo right below the exit sign and said, “Tonight your life is going to change, Joe.” 

Little did he realize his words were a prophecy. 

Out on the field, seven for 10 in the first quarter, Theismann threw a touchdown pass. “Look out world,” he thought. “Theismann is back.”

The tide changed suddenly, and without warning. A flea-flicker from John Riggins landed the ball in Theismann’s hands. The pressure came immediately. 

“Theismann’s in a lot of trouble,” the announcer said seconds before Lawrence Taylor drilled Theismann to the ground. 

From that moment forward, Theismann’s life changed forever. As he fell he heard two gunshots. These sharp retorts were his leg shattering. His compound fracture was a career-ending injury. This moment also marked the beginning of Joe Theismann, entrepreneur. 

This instant life change could have been ruinous. Instead, he used it as inspiration to become a better person—and a better businessman.


Here are eight business insights Theismann shared as the keynote speaker at the 2019 MILK Business Conference in Las Vegas. 

1. Don’t get set in your ways. 

“People aren’t opposed to change. They just don’t want to be changed,” Theismann says. “You don't have to change one thing you are, but I think you have to open your mind and your eyes to the possibilities of changes and how do you make them work for you.” 

2. Recognize that you need others. 

When the medics brought the stretcher out on the field to collect a writhing Theismann, 55,000 people stood up and gave him an ovation like he’d never heard in his life. “Fifty-five thousand people said thank you to a man who thought he needed absolutely no one,” he says. 

Since then, Theismann says he’s learned that you cannot and will not be truly successful in life if you’re doing it by yourself. 

“I think it’s important that we understand we need one another,” he says. 


3. Success comes when you give back. 

One day a buddy asked Theismann if he was successful. He thought through his many successes in football, broadcasting and public speaking, and he replied, “yes.” 

His friend corrected him. “You are aspiring. You know what true success is, Joe? True success comes when you achieve the position in your life and you start giving back. 

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