Theismann explains Andre the Giant photo op

During the offseason donut hole between free agency and the draft, we’re always on the lookout for interesting stories.  Thanks to Joe Theismann, we have one.

Via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann recently explained to Chad Dukes of 106.7 The Fan in D.C. an unusual 1975 photo op with the late Andre the Giant, an iconic wrestler who also had a memorable role in The Princess Bride.

“One of the forerunners of football 12 months a year was George Allen, our old coach with the Redskins,” Theismann told Dukes.  “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.”

The publicity stunt went beyond a photograph in which Theismann looks like a ventriloquist’s dummy in comparison to the hulking Frenchman who was a fixture of what was known at the time as the World Wide Wrestling Federation.

“[Allen] had talked to Vince McMahon Sr.,” Theismann said.  “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.”

Via Steinberg, conflicting reports still linger over whether Washington offered the wrestler, whose real name was André René Roussimoff, a contract.  Andre the Giant died in 1993 at the age of 46 of heart failure.