Joe Theismann: Values of the Scout Law ‘don’t leave you’

As a Dallas Cowboys fan, it hurts me a little to type this, but here goes: Joe Theismann is the man.

I mean, how many Super Bowl-winning former quarterbacks can recite the Boy Scout Law without notes?

The former Life Scout and Washington Redskins star did just that tonight, causing the gathered group of hundreds of council and national professional Scouters to break into applause.

Theismann really connected with me and others when he recalled Scouting’s impact on his life and the lives of today’s young people. His impassioned words were delivered with spiral-like precision at tonight’s closing dinner of the BSA’s annual Top Hands Conference in Washington, D.C.

Those 12 points of the Scout Law “don’t leave you,” Theismann said. “Think about it; how many things can you remember from when you were young?”

Adults who were in Scouting recall more than merely the words of the Scout Law, Theismann continued. They remember its meaning.

“As adults, look at this code,” he said. “Whether you’re a Scout or just a person in life, that’s not a bad credo to follow.”

Your council’s Scout executive and other key professionals have spent the week here discussing new programs, sharing best practices and exploring new ways to reach today’s teens.

Recruiting and retaining Scouts is a whole different ballgame from the time when Theismann was a Scout in the mid-’60s. He got as far as Life Scout, and his mom worked for the BSA for 20 years in New Brunswick, N.J.

“The distractions and challenges facing today’s teens, we didn’t have to deal with those when we were Scouts,” he said.

But the goal is the same five decades later, Theismann said: teaching leadership, teamwork, unity, creativity and independence. And, of course, helping young men and women to Be Prepared.

“The best coaches all say preparation matters,” he said. “Scouts have been doing that for a long time. As you shape the world of Scouting and prepare these young men, think about the opportunity you have.”

And when should we, as Scouters, take steps to make a difference? Not tomorrow, Theismann said. We start today.

His “carpe diem” outlook came from a very painful moment in his playing career. On Nov. 18, 1985, Theismann’s leg broke in multiple places during a game on national TV. ESPN viewers would later vote it as the NFL’s “most shocking moment in history,” and if you saw the 2009 movie The Blind Side, you remember the injury being shown as a reason why left tackles (who protect a quarterback’s blind side) are so important.

The injury ended Theismann’s career at age 36.

“No matter how good you are at what you do, it can be gone in an instant,” Theismann said, his cadence slowing. “We can’t wait for tomorrow. You can’t wait for tomorrow to bring Scouting to more youth.”

It’s your ball. What’s your next move?

7 thoughts on “Joe Theismann: Values of the Scout Law ‘don’t leave you’

    • Agreed. He had a great line about that. Someone asked him how he felt after he broke his leg, and he said, “First of all, I didn’t break my leg. Lawrence Taylor broke my leg.”

  1. Brings back memories. I recall attending an NCAC/Amangamek-Wipit Lodge banquet sometime in the ’70’s and there being this relatively unknown, young NFL quarterback as the dinner speaker. Not exactly a rookie, this guy had spent a couple years in the Canadian league, and had recently joined the NFL and the Redskins as a backup quarterback. Young and relatively unknown, but showed promise in his passing. Can’t remember a thing of what he said; just remember being duly impressed. I’ll have to search for my scrapbook and see if I can find that photo of Joe Theismann that was given to each of the Arrowmen at the banquet… And I wonder if Theismann still has the indian headdress the Arrowmen presented him that evening?

  2. You can take the boy out of scouting, but you can’t take the scouting out of the boy. Theismann’s got the right idea.

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