Joe Theismann Stares Down Change

If there is one person who can address the Challenge of Change, its Joe Theismann. The former all-pro quarterback for the Washington Redskins experienced one of recent historys more memorable life changes when he broke his leg in a dramatic tackle during a Monday Night Football game in 1985.

The compound fracture would be etched into the minds of football fans, and Theismann had no choice but to look for a new approach to life. I went from being a professional football player to not having a job in one evening, Theismann says. It really shaped my life.

He was forced instantly to pick up the pieces and not let his professional life stop on that November night in Washington.

Accepting change, dealing with it and even taking advantage of it is what Theismann will address today in his keynote presentation, Challenge of Change, at 1:10 p.m. The keynote is co-sponsored by AireSpring.

I had become a very egotistical self-centered person, he says. When something is taken away from you that you really care about, it forces you to look inward. I did not like what I saw.

His career path had to be adjusted, but a key, he says, was adjusting his outlook as well.

In turn, hes had successful ventures in the restaurant business and has become a staple of ESPNs NFL broadcasts. He recently concluded his first season as an analyst on Monday Night Football, which moved to the cable network from ABC.

Channel partners may not have to deal with a gruesome injury broadcast on national television, but there could be career-ending consequences if they dont react to a constantly evolving industry. Adjusting to endless consolidations and keeping ahead of rapidly advancing technologies can be handled if the right approach is taken and the proper mindset is in place, Theismann says. At the very least, change cannot be ignored, and those challenges have to be attacked from the ground up.

I like to address individuals as well as companies, Theismann explains. If people make the choice to accept changes, then they can help the company succeed. If people resist change, it sets everyone back. Change is inevitable.

Theismann plans to touch on five points today: goals, attitude, customer service, teamwork and motivation.

Theismann has dealt with each of those for years as a professional athlete and beyond.

You dont get to two Super Bowls he led the Redskins to a 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII without at least addressing those ideas. And the challenge of accepting change hasnt stopped for the 1983 NFL MVP.

Theismann faced change when he moved from Sunday to Monday night broadcasting and joined a completely new broadcast team with Monday Night Football and faced the challenge of saving a show with waning popularity. We had no idea what to expect, Theismann says. I think we managed to bring Monday Night back.

He says he felt his ESPN crew, which includes broadcast booth teammates Mike Tirico and Tony Kornheiser, helped improve the Monday Night Football offering. Ratings were up, and next year, they hope to make the show even better. And past experiences taught him to take the right approach, even in the face of another unknown element in his career. I just went in with a positive attitude, he adds. The good thing was, I had a job.

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