For Joe Theismann, watching University of Louisville player Kevin Ware's right leg break Sunday was like 1985 all over again.
Theismann suffered his own broken leg on a hit by the New York Giants' Lawrence Taylor on "Monday Night Football" nearly 30 years ago, ending his decorated career as the Washington Redskins' quarterback.
Members of Louisville's team and head coach Rick Pitino were visibly distraught during their winning game against Duke, shedding tears as Ware lay on the floor in agony. It brought back memories of Taylor waving his helmet for medical staff to the field after his hit on Theismann.
Ware left the hospital on Tuesday, and was seen entering the team's practice facility on crutches, along with his mom, who carried the team's trophy.
"I was sickened to my stomach,'' Theismann told Matt Lauer on TODAY Tuesday. "It just conjured up all the memories of what I went through that evening. The excruciating pain, and all the people around me and all the activity, and when I saw everybody start to get around Kevin, it just kept playing over and over in my mind. Those things just don't ever leave you.''
"I know I heard mine break when it happened,'' Theismann said. "It sounded like two muzzled gunshots. I'm sure in Kevin's case, the guys who were close to the bench probably heard the same thing, and it's a sound you never forget."
“He's doing very well,’’ Ware’s mother, Lisa Junior, said in a report on TODAY. “He's very positive. He's not so much focusing on what happened, but he's focusing on the recovery. I have no doubt that he'll be back bigger and stronger.”
Ware, a 6-foot-2 guard, was taken to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, where doctors inserted a rod into his right tibia to repair a leg that had been broken in two places. He is expected to need a year to recover, but doctors have said he will be able to play basketball again. Theismann spoke with Ware on the phone after his surgery.
"Physically the rehabilitation process is not going to be that difficult for him,'' Theismann said. "Emotionally is where the big problem is, and it's not a problem. I had a chance to talk to him yesterday and he sounds like he's just in a great place. He knows the road is not going to be easy, but he is young and determined to come back. He may turn an ankle or something, but with that rod in there, I doubt if he's ever going to break that leg again."