March 24, 2003

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Former Notre Dame All-America quarterback Joe Theismann is one of 11 former college players and two coaches named today to the National Football Foundation’s 2003 College Football Hall of Fame Division I-A class by Jon F. Hanson, chairman of the National Football Foundation.

The 2003 College Football Hall of Fame class will be inducted at the 46th Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 9, 2003, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The players and coaches will be officially enshrined at the Hall of Fame in South Bend in August 2004.

Theismann launched an attack on the Irish passing record books, setting 19 school marks while leading the team to its first bowl appearance in 45 years in 1969 and a 10-1 record capped by a Cotton Bowl victory in 1970 over top-rated and unbeaten Texas.

A first-team All-America selection as a senior by Associated Press, Theismann was the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1970. A participant in the 1970 Hula Bowl, Theismann set school records for passing yards in a game (526), yards in a season (2,429) and touchdowns in a season (16) among others. He ranked second in the nation in total offense as a senior at 291.3 yards per game – and that year he helped the Irish as a team average 510.5 total yards per game and 252.7 passing yards per game, two marks that remain all-time Notre Dame bests.

In three seasons, Theismann led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3-2 record while completing 290 passes on 509 attempts for 4,411 yards, a mark that still ranks fifth in school history. Honored for his classroom prowess, he earned Academic All-America honors in 1970 and was later named to the GTE Academic All-America Hall of Fame.

Following graduation, Theismann embarked on a 15-year professional career, his final 12 years in the NFL as a member of the Washington Redskins. Upon retirement, he became a highly successful businessman as well as a prominent television sports analyst for ESPN. Theismann continues to support such charitable interests as the United Way, March of Dimes, American Heart Association, Cystic Fibrosis, Special Olympics, Boy Scouts of America and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Originally from South River, N.J., Theismann becomes the 40th Notre Dame player to be chosen for the Hall of Fame since inductions began in 1951. Five former Irish coaches also have been selected. No other school has produced more than those 45 enshrinees, the most recent being Ralph Guglielmi in 2001.

Theismann becomes the eighth Notre Dame quarterback selected to the Hall of Fame, joining Frank Carideo in 1954, Harry Stuhldreher in 1958, John Lujack in 1960, Angelo Bertelli in 1972, Paul Hornung in 1985, Bob Williams in 1988 and Guglielmi in 2001.

Here’s the complete listing of those to be inducted:


Ricky Bell Southern California Running Back 1973-76
Murry Bowden Dartmouth Defensive Back 1967-70
Tom Brown Minnesota Guard 1958-60
Jimbo Covert Pittsburgh Offensive Tackle 1980-83
Jerry LeVias Southern Methodist End 1965-68
Billy Neighbors Alabama Tackle 1959-61
Ron Pritchard Arizona State Linebacker 1966-68
John Rauch Georgia Quarterback 1945-48
Barry Sanders Oklahoma State Tailback 1986-88
Joe Theismann Notre Dame Quarterback 1968-70
Roger Wehrli Missouri, Defensive Back 1966-68
Doug Dickey; Tennessee Florida; 1964-78; 104-58-6
Hayden Fry; Southern Methodist North Texas St., Iowa; 1962-98; 232-188-10