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April 3, 2015

Joe Theismann credits George Allen for his famous photo with Andre the Giant

As previously mentioned in this space, the Andre the Giant-to-the-Redskins story is probably more myth than history. Despite reports on wrestling sites that the massive WWE star was once offered a contract, or a tryout, or an interview with the team, other reports agree that this topic never went beyond the theoretical.

Still, let’s add another voice to this history: that of quarterback Joe Theismann. In a recent radio appearance with 106.7 The Fan’s Chad Dukes, Theismann brought up the Andre story on his own when asked about the NFL being a 12-month publicity machine.

“I will say this though: one of the forerunners of football 12 months a year was George Allen, our old coach with the Redskins,” Theismann said. “George used to try and make some kind of a big deal, usually in the first two weeks of May. I remember one year he sent me to New York to Toots Shor’s, and I got a picture taken — and you can look it up online, — with Andre the Giant.

“[Allen] had talked to Vince McMahon Sr.,” Theismann went on. “This was the type of progressive mind that he had; he talked to Vince McMahon Sr. and said ‘Look, I’m thinking about maybe bringing Andre the Giant in, signing him, so that he can come in and block field goals and extra points for us.’ Now, I don’t know whether it was true or not, but if you look up the picture, I look like an infant. Is that unbelievable or what? Look at his head! And I’ll tell you something, I shook his hand and I lost my arm. I mean, it went all the way up to my elbow. I had no forearm or anything.

“But that was George: he just always kept the Redskins name out there. He was a great promoter of the football team. He understood the marketing aspects of the game of football.”

The Redskins Encyclopedia reports that the above photo was taken at Duke Zeibert’s, in Washington, in July of 1975, and also that the Redskins offered Andre a $100,000 contract. That would seem to conflict with both Theismann’s memory, and with that of Bubba Tyer, who told the Orlando Sentinel that there was never actually a tryout. It seems likely to me that there might not ever be a completely factual historical account of this incident.

source: washingtonpost.com

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