Playbook stories: Lost, found and confused


Theismann: Get out the handcuffs

Joe Theismann


Joe Theismann played quarterback for the Redskins from 1974 to '85.

Everything a player wants to know about his importance, needs and career is contained within the playbook. A player feels he has truly arrived in this league when he receives his playbook. Yet as important as it is, there are still some players who have trouble holding on to it. I remember one training camp when we had a guy -- who will remain nameless -- who lost his playbook early in camp and tried to use other people's like it was college and he lost a textbook.

He realized the trouble he could be in with the coaching staff if they found out, so he kept coming up with excuses for not having it in meetings as though the coaching staff wouldn't realize he lost it. Little did he know that the coaches had found it and were just waiting for him to either fess up or make a mistake so they could have some fun with him.

One day after about a week, he finally got the nerve to admit he lost it, and the coordinator he told simply reached into his desk and handed the player his playbook and told him to try to handcuff himself to the darn thing. You've never seen a more relieved player than him.

Allen: "It was like Greek"

Eric Allen


Eric Allen played defensive back for the Eagles, Saints and Raiders from 1988 to 2001.

When I first came into the league as a Philadelphia Eagle, I had the luck of playing for defensive genius Buddy Ryan. For those who don't know, he's the architect of the famed "46" defense and also was the defensive coordinator for the 1985 Chicago Bears defense that chewed up opposing offenses.

Coming into the league I felt that I was pretty adept at reading a playbook and understanding the nuances of what was going on after a first look, but days into my tenure with the Eagles I didn't know what was going on in my playbook. It was like Greek with the different terminology and nuances. Luckily I had a very good set of teammates and a patient coaching staff who walked me through the playbook and got me up to snuff relatively quickly. But those first few days after I received the playbook it completely baffled me.

Salisbury: Lost and found

Sean Salisbury


Sean Salisbury was backup QB for several teams from 1987 to '94.

I've never lost my playbook. That I can assure you, but I have misplaced it for stretches at a time and let me tell you, it's frightening because you need that sucker when you're going into the positional meetings and no matter how long you're with a team you need to have it to get used to any new terminology that may pop up.

The first time I misplaced my playbook was the worst. I was a young player and didn't know how to tell the coaching staff I couldn't find it because I didn't want to be cut and believe me, losing a playbook can be a cutworthy offense. So I tried to find that sucker everywhere I could before I finally realized where it was and brought it in to the meeting. When I saw that big binder for the first time after misplacing it, I darn near jumped for joy.