Ball carrier Dave Theisen of Marquette Golden Avalanche plows into Cincinnati line in 1960 game.
David L. Theisen
Born: September 9, 1941 (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Died: December 9, 2014 (Bellingham, Washington)
Dave Theisen played four games in the CFL over two seasons for two different teams.
He came to Canada to play professional football after playing in two Bowl games in the United States and being drafted by clubs in both the National Football League and the fledgling American Football League.
Born in Milwaukee, Wis., Theisen was a workhorse running back for the Popes of Pius XI Catholic High school. After graduation, Theisen played for hometown Marquette University, playing nine games for the Golden Avalanche as a sophomore in 1960. He carried the ball 56 times for 268 yards (a 4.8-yard average), including two touchdowns. He also had eight receptions for 72 yards. The team went 3-6 and, to the shock of the players and alumni, the football program was cancelled at the end of the season.
Many of the players scattered to the other universities. Theisen went to Nebraska, where he had to sit out a year before becoming eligible. He played for the Cornhuskers in the 1962 Gotham Bowl, where he had a key fumble recovery as a defensive halfback in a 36-34 victory over the Miami Hurricanes. (The Gotham Bowl lured only 6,166 spectators to Yankee Stadium, as a newspaper strike in New York limited coverage. The game was aired on tape the following day on ABC-TV’s “Wide World of Sports.”)
Theisen’s final college game was played at the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day, 1964, as the Cornhuskers defeated Auburn, 13-7. Theisen, who also handled kicking duties, booted a 31-yard field goal in the first quarter, an Orange Bowl record. (The previous best was a 22-yarder by Tennessee’s Bowden Wyatt in 1939 versus Oklahoma.) Early in the second quarter, Theisen broke his own record by kicking a 36-yard field goal. He also kicked a convert for a total of seven points in Nebraska’s 13-7 victory.
Theisen was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 11th round (No. 141 overall) of the 1963 NFL draft. The Houston Oilers of the AFL took him in the 26th round. Theisen signed with the Rams but failed to make the team.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound athlete wound up dressing with the Toronto Argonauts for three games at the end of the 1964 season. His rights were traded to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He handled place-kicking duties for the Bombers in the opening game of the 1965 season, kicking two converts and a single after missing a 32-yard field goal in 1 21-14 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos.
Theisen later returned to the University of Nebraska, where he received two master’s degrees. He worked as a child psychologist in the United States and Peru, before becoming a real-estate broker and investor in Montana. He retired to the border town of Blaine, Wash., in 1996. He died a year after being diagnosed with brain cancer.