NEW ORLEANS - Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Theismann met with the media on Tuesday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, addressing a wide range of topics from the NFL lockout to controversial New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush.
Theismann was in town promoting â€œDefense Sport Mouthguard Rinseâ€ at the National Athletic Trainersâ€™ Association. Defense Sport Mouthguard Rinse acts as a sanitizer and is patent pending. According to the manufacturer SaniBrands, â€œDefense Sport Mouthguard was scientifically designed to help keep an athleteâ€™s mouth guard clean without exposing them to alcohol or sugar.â€
Among the subjects he touched on were the current lockout and the NFL landscape for the 2011 season if and when the lockout is lifted. Thiesmann was candid and empathized with frustrated fans, but through the eyes of the 1983 NFL MVP, the issues preventing a deal from being reached are not unlike those faced by millions of workers across America.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot of money involved. Thereâ€™s injuries, thereâ€™s health care. All of those same factors that everybody thatâ€™s watching goes through in their life, itâ€™s the same thing for us as athletes,â€ Theismann continued. â€œWe have skin in the game as retired players because theyâ€™re talking about making a contribution to our funds to be able to increase the pensions. Theyâ€™re talking about making health benefits better for everybody. Those are all concerns for every Americans out there and us as well.â€
Theismann, survivor of two work stoppages in â€™83 and â€™87, feels that it is now crunch time for players and owners to strike a deal.
â€œNFL has worked very hard through their players and ownerships to create a great game. You run the risk of losing that. These next two weeks are critical,â€ Theismann said.
The NFL and the de-certified players union are at a crossroads. With a laundry list of key events on the NFL schedule already in the rear-view mirror, including free agency (for both veterans and undrafted rookies), mini-camps and OTAâ€™s, the next two weeks are not only critical, theyâ€™re essential.
Itâ€™s even more essential for new coaches and rookies to get acclimated to life with their new teams.
â€œIf youâ€™re the Carolina Panthers, if youâ€™re Ron Rivera and youâ€™re counting on Cam Newton to play quarterback for you, you donâ€™t stand a chance,â€ Theismann said. He noted that veteran teams such as New Orleans, Green Bay, Indianapolis and New England will have an advantage early in the season.
Theismann had high praise for Saints head coach Sean Payton. â€œSean Payton is one of the greatest play callers, not just good, that Iâ€™ve seen this game have â€“ heâ€™s ruthless,â€ citing the famous â€œAmbushâ€ onside kick call to open the second half of the Super Bowl. â€œHeâ€™s not afraid to take a chance and puts a lot of burden on Drew to get things right.â€
One player who Payton may not have at his disposal this season is running back Reggie Bush, who has been a controversial figure this off-season, is questionable to return. Although the Saints have said they want him back, an $11.8 million dollar price tag means Bush will have to restructure or be forced to find work outside of New Orleans. Theismann would like to see Bush return to the black and gold next season.
â€œI hope Reggie comes back. When you look at the game today, itâ€™s a multiple-back game. Just like you have to have big receivers, small wide receivers you need to have different types of running backs,â€ Theismann explained. â€œYou need the Mark Ingramâ€™s. You need the Pierre Thomasâ€™. You need the Chris Ivoryâ€™s. You need the Reggie Bushâ€™s. The perfect compliment would be to have all four of them because they all bring something different to the table. And thatâ€™s exactly what you want as a coach.â€
According to Theismann, another Saints Super Bowl run hinges on the defense returning to being the playmaking bunch that forced 15 fumbles and 26 interceptions in 2009.
â€œIf you look at them, they had nine interceptions last year. When you look back at the year they won the championship, Darren Sharper had 9 by himself. Defensively they have to be able to bring more pressure and put pressure on people,â€ Theismann said.
When asked if he could see the Saints back in the Super Bowl this year, â€œI can very easily see the Saints as being one of those teams,â€ Theismann said.
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