Joe Theismann played 12 NFL seasons -- all for the Redskins -- and he finished his career with 25,206 passing yards, 160 touchdowns, and a Super Bowl win. But he's probably best remembered as "the guy on the wrong end of a Lawrence Taylor sack." Theismann suffered a compound fracture in his right leg in what proved to be his final NFL game.

Now, more than 30 years later, Taylor, considered one of the best defensive players in NFL history, is trying to take a glass-half-full approach to Theismann's gruesome injury.

"I did him a favor," Taylor joked while speaking at the Bronko Nagurski luncheon in Charlotte, N.C., this week (via "That man was on his way out of football a long time before that. Listen, that was going to be his last year. He wasn't playing very well. I did him a favor."

At the time of the injury in November 1985, Theismann was 36 years old. He played in 11 games that season, and threw for 1,774 yards (55.9 completion percentage), eight touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He had also been sacked 37 times, including the last, fateful takedown that abruptly ended his days as a football player.

Taylor remembered Theismann screaming "like a little girl," and before doctors took him off the field, the quarterback said, "LT, I'll be back."

Taylor's response: "And I said, 'Yeah, Joe, but not tonight.'"

Lawrence Taylor and his old Giants coach Bill Parcells share a word. USATSI

Fun fact: The Redskins actually won that night, 23-21. Jay Schroeder started the final five games -- he went 4-1 -- and the team finished 10-6 for the season.

Taylor also talked about how the game has changed in the last three decades.

"How I grew up was it's a gladiator sport," he said. "You're rough and tough and you walk into restaurants and you order straight from the street. Tell them to run a deer in here for me to tear some meat off, and I'll eat it."

Back in December, Patriots coach Bill Belichick -- who was Taylor's defensive coordinator with the Giants -- drew similarities between LT and the Texans' J.J. Watt, though he wasn't ready to say that Watt had displaced Taylor atop the list.

"I wouldn't go above Taylor, because of the versatility that Taylor had in terms of pass coverage," Belichick said at the time. "He was a pass-rusher, a run player and also a pass defender. It's really an elite player, and you're including the kicking game. Of course, Watt's blocked a lot of kicks too. But I think the position he plays, he's as disruptive of a defensive lineman as I've seen in the league, in the same general category as LT."

Lawrence Taylor pressures and disrupts Joe Theismann during a game in 1982. Getty Images