WASHINGTON — Tucked away at the end of a long interview with the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan, former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann revealed the best financial advice that he ever got came from the late team owner, Jack Kent Cooke.
Theismann played his entire career before the advent of free agency, which immensely simplified the process of contract negotiations. Certainly, agents played a role in the talks, but if players and the front office couldn’t come to an agreement, there was little recourse for players.
The last contract that he signed was after a Super Bowl championship in 1982 and an NFL MVP award in 1983, which set the stage for a fair market deal.
“He sat down and gave me a contract that, like I said, was one of the highest in the league,” Theismann said of Cooke. “But he also handed me a business card and he said, ‘I want you to call this person.’ It was a gentleman from Lloyd’s of London [insurance market]. He said, ‘I want you to insure this contract.’ It was $5 million for five years.
“I said, ‘Mr. Cooke, I’ve played for you for 11 years, never missed a game, never missed a practice. I’m going to show up.’
“He said, ‘I understand that. But if you insure this contract, it is a good business decision because the premiums will be one-half of 1 percent of the total value of the contract.'”
Theismann acquiesced, signed the contract and got it insured through Lloyd’s. He would go on to play 27 regular season games on this contract before a freak tackle by Lawrence Taylor snapped his leg, ending his career. If he hadn’t had the contract insured, he would have abruptly ended started his life in desperation mode.
Instead, he got a new lease on life and time to adjust to life after playing football. That was thanks in part to another bit of advice from Cooke.
“The other piece of advice he gave me was the best I’ve ever gotten. He said, ‘I do not want you to deduct the premiums from your taxes. If in the event you do get hurt, if you deduct your premiums, it’ll be taxable. If you don’t deduct your premiums, it’s not taxable.’
“A year later I got hurt and it gave me a financial foundation to be able to move forward after football, but it was through Mr. Cooke’s advice. That made a huge difference in my life.”