RENO, Nev. — Fantasy sports have become as common play as the players that play the game. Fans are invited to play GM while selecting teams and players of their choice. The only sport that adopted the popular trend was golf— but American Classic Celebrity Championship has changed that.
During the weekend of July 14- 16th, fans will have selected their player of choice in each group of competitors for an opportunity to win $10,000 for their charity of choice and two tickets to next year’s event. The drafting of these players started on June 22nd. Players can be selected at www.accfantasygolf.com. Former Washington Football Team legendary quarterback Joe Theismann will participate for the 32nd time out of the tournaments 34-year history. Theismann is confident that he will be victorious in his category which features, Josh Allen, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Roger Clemons, and Patrick Mahomes.
Zenger News recently spoke to the Super Bowl XXVII winning quarterback to discuss the tournament and much more.
Zenger: The American Century Classic for the first time ever will involve fan interaction and will include Fantasy Golf for their huge event. Why should fans pick Joe Theismann on their team?
Theismann: To fill out their bracket (laughing). I feel like I’m playing pretty well. What people can do, Perc, they can go to www.accfantasygolf.com and they can find out all the details of this Fantasy Celebrity Golf outing. It is a part of the American Century Championship Fantasy Contest. American Century has been the title sponsor for 25 years. They do an incredible job with the charities. The Stowers Institute in Kansas City research on disease is a beneficiary and some of the charities up in the Lake Tahoe area. It began on June 22, you could log on and pick one person from each of the five groups. If you wind up being right during the competition, which runs July 14-16th, you win $10,000 for the charity of your choice, plus you win a trip for two for next year’s event. Also, if you win each day [3 days] whoever the winner is on those particular days, they also win a trip for two to next year’s event. It’s a ton of fun.
I’m in the category with Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Roger Clemons, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. Charles Barkley will be there. Annika Sorenstam… I stand next to her on the range just to try and pick up tips. All the Curry’s will be there. I played with Dell a few years back. He’s such a great stick, they all are. Tony Romo, Mardy Fish, David Wells, Miles Teller. Every time I see Miles, all I think about is “Top Gun Maverick.” Larry The Cable Guy. I mean, there is 80 of us from all different genres when it comes to entertainment. It’s just a ton of fun and it’s for a great cause. There’s Fantasy Football, Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Basketball, Fantasy Hockey, and now we have Fantasy Celebrity Golf.
Zenger: I know it’s a lot of fun, and you are out there having a blast, but everyone you just named are all competitors. How competitive does this thing get?
Theismann: It’s competitive. We’re competition junkies. That’s the truth. That’s all we are. If you and I are the first two cars at a light together, it’s on! When that light goes green, it’s like I’m on a racetrack. I’m not going to exceed the speed limit, but I’m going to get out there ahead of you and beat you. That’s the way everybody is out there. You see the competitiveness once the tournament starts. Everybody is friendly and having fun, and it stays that way, but then all of a sudden, when the ball goes in the air, it’s all a question of being able to be the best you can. The funny thing about golf, Percy is you’re really not competing against someone. In your mind all you should be thinking about is, how do I compete against this gold course? We play in twosomes or threesomes, the person you’re with, they’re not going to yell in your backswing or knock the ball away not allowing you to putt. So, really it becomes the golf course that becomes the challenge. And it’s a great golf course too. It’s beautiful. South Lake Tahoe is absolutely the best place in the world.
Zenger: Does your approach in terms of preparation mimic what you did as a football player or is this approach slightly different?
Theismann: Oh, I’m serious. The thing about it, there are so many moving parts. I didn’t play golf when I was younger. I picked it up at a later age in my life. I got a staple in one shoulder, short leg, my back doesn’t turn, my other shoulders got issues. I have to work my way through my golfing with my medical issues, but I still can do it. That’s the nice thing. I can still walk, still play, and I love to compete. Now, I just work more on my short game instead of trying to hit the ball a far distance.
Zenger: We know you can sling a football, but how is your golf swing looking?
Theismann: It’s lost a little bit of length over time. The par fives aren’t as easy, so now I’ve been working on my wedge game. You start working on wedges, you start hitting hybrids, you start chipping a little bit more. It’s like everything else, Percy, you adjust as you work at a job, or adjust to competition to what you’re able to do. For me, there’s certain things I can’t do anymore. I can’t hit the ball as far. I had to figure out a way to get the ball in the hole using other clubs and it’s fun.
Zenger: What are you looking forward to the most about that weekend?
Theismann: Karaoke night (laughing). We have a karaoke night and it is so much fun. Travis Kelce goes crazy. Alphonso Ribeiro shouldn’t even be allowed to compete he’s so good. It’s just getting a chance to see friends that you haven’t seen in a year. This is my 32nd tournament out of the 34 that have been in existence. I’ve had a chance to make a lot of friendships. Friendships that I first made being in the American Century Tournament, now I visit and I stop in cities and see people that I met there. Friends that I have. It’s been a great opportunity to meet wonderful people. And then you find out just how terrific these individuals are. Not only are they great in their professions, but wonderful human beings, the things they are involved with that are important to the
Zenger: If you understand anything Fantasy, I hope you are prepared for the scrutiny as much as the praise.
Theismann: I’m ready! Bring it on. I’m ready to take on this group and try to be the best in the group I’m in. It’s so much fun to be able to compete. It’s been 38 years since I got hurt, and I love competition. I love training camps and the learning process. Golf is a game that goes from hole to hole. Forget about day to day. It’s the toughest thing to repeat on a continuing basis, but yet it provides so much satisfaction when you do something right.
Zenger: I think you have exuberated such mental toughness to be able to compete at any level given the injury you sustained.
Theismann: You try to. I wrote a book called, “How To Be A Champion Every Day,” and one of the things that I talk about, no matter what you do for a living, whether you’re a part of the military… and by the way, I want to thank any person that’s putting on a uniform, the police officers, the firefighters, the first responders, and those men and women in our military. Those are the real heroes on our world today. We as athletes, God gave a gift to us. Gave us the ability to do certain things. They make a consciences effort every day to go out and take care of us and it’s certainly appreciated.
I think mental toughness is the key to everything. You have to be mentally tough to deal with different situations in life and in society. We are in a constantly changing society today. Seems like every day there is something unique that we have to deal with as people. I think you need to be happy with who you are as a person. It all starts with us. One of the things I quote in the book are mom-isms, and one of the things my mom used to say is, “You can never be happy with anybody until you’re happy with who you are as a person. And don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can or you cannot be something.” It’s the advice I live by.
Zenger: What are you most looking forward to this year in the NFL?
Theismann: I’m looking forward to two people in particular. I’m looking forward to Aaron Rodgers impact on the Jets and I’m looking to see if Russell Wilson can be the player that everybody believed he could be, but yet wasn’t anywhere near it a year ago. You got Sean Payton in Denver, you have Aaron in New York and I’m really curious. And of course, one last thing close to home, I’m real curious to see how well Sam Howell our young quarterback [Washington] is going to be able to step into that role and lead this football team.
Zenger: In the case of Russell Wilson, can a coach, particularly in this case, Sean Payton have that type of impact on a player’s advancement?
Theismann: I believe he still does have it in him and I believe Sean is going to get the best out of him. I think what we’re going to see out of Russell Wilson is the quarterback that we saw earlier in Seattle. It was such an off year for him last year, for a lot of different reasons. Look what Sean was able to do with Drew Brees. Drew was 6’0 and now he’s an imminent Hall of Famer. I think Sean is going to be great for Russell. And I think Russell is going to appreciate what Sean Payton can do for him.
Zenger: Last question, how does Joe Theismann look into today’s game of football?
Theismann: Oh gosh, let’s start with the economics. In 1984, I was the fourth highest paid player in the league at a million dollars a year. The top guy Aaron is at $59, most get somewhere in between $40 and $45. Percy, every morning I wake up, after I get done crying, I have my breakfast (laughing). I think a lot of us would’ve faired pretty well. We threw the ball around… not a lot. I had one 400-yard game. I think the opportunity and the rules have given a lot of guys the chance to just fling it around. But you still have to make the right decision. You still have to protect the ball. You still have to understand down and distance. You still have to read defenses. None of those things have changed. As much as we think the game has changed overall, it really hasn’t. Fundamentals are all still there.
Edited by Alberto Arellano and Virginia Van Zandt
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