Theismann sizes up all things NFL

Former CFL and NFL quarterback Joe Theismann. (STAN BEHAL/QMI Agency file photo)

Former CFL and NFL quarterback Joe Theismann. (STAN BEHAL/QMI Agency file photo)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:52 PM ET

TORONTO - Joe Theismann, the former Argonaut who went on to win a Super Bowl in Washington before becoming a staple of football broadcasts, held court in downtown Toronto on a variety of topics Wednesday afternoon.

Some of the highlights:

— He thinks RGIII is the real deal but hopes he does more than just run.

— Peyton Manning has an immense challenge ahead of him adapting to life away from domed stadiums, facing the elements.

— This is a make-or-break year for Sam Bradford and Philip Rivers.

— Fantasy football is an unstoppable force.

— And the Super Bowl is going to be the Harbaugh Bowl and the Niners will be tough to beat.

Q: What do you think about fantasy football (Theismann was in town for a fantasy football event).

A: I’m fascinated by it. Now I’m buying fantasy magazines. I think it’s all-consuming to people. Once you get involved. You’re in ... It’s taken the ardent fan and made him a fanatic. It’s taken the casual fan and made him interested.

Q: Sophomore slump in the offing for Cam Newton?

A: The things that he accomplished last year really deserve more credit than he’s getting. He had no off-season training. He had no pre-season. This was a college kid coming into professional football and just playing streetball. That said, the defences didn’t really know what they were getting either. What happens when defences get to know Cam? What happens when the defensive coaches get a book on you? (Still) He’s like Ben Roethlisberger with wheels. It’s amazing to see.

Q: Can Robert Griffin III get to the Michael Vick level, the Newton level in time? Would that be a good thing?

A: To a degree, I hope he isn’t (the same) because I don’t want to see him run that much. I don’t want to see Robert have 14 rushing touchdowns and 20 touchdown passes. I’d like to see him have six rushing touchdowns and 29 (passing touchdowns). That’s where he’s going to have to grow. I would compare him probably more to Michael than I would to Cam because he throws the ball down the field quite well, the intermediate stuff is what he needs to learn. Cam was a better intermediate thrower than putting the ball down the field ... The best way to describe him (though) is he is as advertised. Smart, intellectual, athletic. (Theismann saw every Washington pre-season game).

Q: Would it be fun playing today?

A: Oh gosh would I love it. First of all, Drew (Brees) gets $100 million dollars. That’s very attractive, plus the rules today favour the offence. Plus I never got a chance to play in a spread offence ... It was going to extend my career three or four years to be in the (shotgun). Because we ran all deep routes. I thought this is so cool, I can see where all the pressure is coming from, slide around and make a play.

Q: Thoughts on the CFL, still follow it?

A: Oh absolutely. I have a big, warm spot in my heart for the CFL ... I tell kids don’t discount the Canadian Football League. It’s great football. It’s a chance to do something you love. If I’d never had the chance to experience the Super Bowl, the Grey Cup would have been it for me. At that time, to be able to play, to represent half the country, we represented the East, Calgary represented the East. Everybody (in the East) really was pulling for you, whether they wanted to admit it or not (chuckling).

Q: Who is going to win the Super Bowl

A: I have the Harbaugh boys playing each other (San Francisco and Baltimore). Mario Manningham gives San Francisco a wide-receiver presence they never had before. Their linebackers and their back end collectively make up the best team in football defensively. (The front four and linebackers and four in the secondary) not sure there’s a better four that plays anywhere (at any of those spots).

Q: What’s your take on (St. Louis Rams QB) Sam Bradford:

A: Make or break year for him. Anytime a new coach comes in, you’ve got to prove yourself. I did it with Joe Gibbs. (He) tried to trade me after five games in 1981. We were 0-5, I wasn’t his guy, he wanted me out ... (Bradford) has to show some consistency irrespective of what happens around him. I have a saying that used to sit in my locker: I don’t have to be the reason my team wins, I just can’t be the reason it loses. Sam, it’s cut or get out. Philip Rivers is another one under the gun. Philip really depends on people around him. He’s not going to run away from anybody (but) if you have Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning in a race, you can probably go get lunch and come back before it’s over ... but how many rings do they have? Everybody’s so (caught up) in mobile quarterback, mobile quarterback, but if you’re going to play in the NFL, you have to learn how to play out of the pocket.

Q: What do you expect from Peyton Manning?

I hope Peyton has a healthy year. Anything less than 11-5 — I think is a bad year for them if they don’t make the playoffs. Oakland and Kansas City will give them a run. What’s Peyton going to look like in November and December? That’s the biggest question. He played eight games indoors when his arm was healthy two years ago. I know the difference in my arm when I was 35 years old and when I was 34, and he’s 36.


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