Colin Thompson has always worked hard to get what he wants. Graduating from Archbishop Wood in 2012, the 4 star recruit took his talents to Florida before eventually transferring to Temple University. After his collegiate days he eventually made his way into the NFL and most recently the Alliance of American Football, which has sadly folded recently. I was able to sit down with Colin and talk about his journey and what’s next for him.
Tell me a bit about your transfer from Florida to Temple in 2014:
It was a transition for sure, going from palm trees, always sun and in the high 70’s to north Philadelphia. But the staff at Temple really helped and were great. The Athletic Director Patrick Kraft was great and the team itself was dedicated and always on the same page. The academic staff did a fantastic job helping with studies and Temple helped create great connections within the city. The Locker room was great, and my class was a successful group in moving onto professional football as well as the coaches who have moved onto bigger roles. Strength and conditioning staff as well as the medical staff were great.
You didn’t have the normal NFL draft path some rookies do, tell me how you worked your way into the NFL?
A bunch of my buddies and I went to a New York Giants rookie workout. I also worked out with the Jets and Eagles as most teams allow tryouts for players that went to local colleges. I felt my best workout was with the Giants, and they went through my tape after and called and told me they would like to sign me as an Undrafted Free Agent. I was in New York from April up until August when I had to have an emergency appendectomy and New York bought me out. I was recovering until about week 8 and the Chicago Bears called me and signed me through the rest of the season.
Your most recent move brought you to the Birmingham Iron of the AAF, tell me how that worked out for you:
Well I was home with my agent and looking through AAF teams and Birmingham needed TEs due to injury and I already knew head coach Tim Lewis because he went to Pennridge and he was a role model for my whole life. I played there until the AAF folded. Birmingham had a great atmosphere within the team and the city and the team bonded a lot. The Iron were able to stay a day and left the next day at 11 AM unlike some other teams who had to leave right away with no place to go. It was such a shame what happened to some players with injuries that suddenly had no insurance or help and did not know what to do.
How did you hear about the AAF folding?
The week before our Tight End’s coach said in a meeting he heard an article say that honestly the league could close soon but we did not give it much thought, and there was another article after our win over Atlanta but did not think much of it again, we got a day off the next day so I drove down to Florida for the day and I got a text from a friend so I went on Twitter and saw the tweet from Darren Rovell saying the league suspended their operations, nobody from league told me, so I decided to drive back to Birmingham, but I missed a goodbye meeting within the team along with several teammates who went on a short vacation who could not make it back. After I cleared out my stuff I just drove off and everyone went their separate ways. It hurt a lot of guys and was upsetting as a lot of players depend on that paycheck to provide for their families.
So what is the next step for you going forward?
I am just going to be working out and staying ready, hoping to see if any team needs a Tight End after the NFL draft, in the meantime I am going to travel and train in Florida for a few weeks and workout. Keep working on my podcast and being prepared
So tell me a bit about your podcast, The Business of Sports Insider podcast:
So my podcast talks about the other side of sports that does not get enough attention for the most part. That is contracts, the salary cap, the 401K benefits players receive and other items that aren’t talked about enough. I have had practice squad players, Fellow AAF players, financial advisors, as well as my agent. It helps show different perspective that many don’t talk about enough, cover a few different things.
What are your thoughts on the current state of Temple football with the new head coach, Rod Carey?
I personally haven’t met Coach Carey yet, but I am excited to get back and see the current group of Tight Ends. Coach has done a great job and the players are competing, they have had three great coaches that have come through and help make Temple elite.
How do you feel about Manny Diaz’s move back to Miami?
Manny Diaz is a great coach and I hold nothing against him as he made a move for his family, Miami is his home and means a lot to a person to coach for your home city and I wish him the best of luck, Miami has a ton of talent and a great coach.
Did you have a favorite teammate and opponent in your time in the NFL?
Odell Beckham Jr gets a bad reputation throughout the NFL. There is a lot of negative banter but Odell is a great person with incredible talent and is a very hard worker. Justin Pugh was a great guy and was a great mentor to me. Did not grow up far away as he is a Council Rock guy. Jordan Williams was another one that was good as well in New York. Trey Burton was a friend from my time at Florida and is a great man and player. Kevin Gilbride, the Tight End’s coach for the bears and was with me in my time at Temple and the New York Giants as well so we have a really special bond. That Bears team was great and both teams I played for are world class. I think Eagles fans will really enjoy Jordan Howard. Jordan is very physical and great person. Has a sort of LeGarrette Blount style to his game and will be a great addition to Philly.
Could you walk me through a day of NFL Training camp practice?
Well it is a 6 AM wake up and we go to eat breakfast and you have to get treatment beforehand and practice starts at 9 o’clock. We get done at noon and afterward head to eat lunch. After lunch, we went to meetings which lasted until 4-5 and then we would break for walkthroughs and then go to Dinner. Then from Nine until Midnight we had more meetings and then it was right to sleep and back at practice in the morning. We would have One day off in the week and only one practice as Two-a-days were eliminated.
Having played at all levels what would you say the differences are between High School, College, and Professional Football?
In the Two lower levels you were always there and worked hard all the time and did not have much to worry about. In the NFL you have to worry that you could lose your job tomorrow, say one day at practice you drop Two passes in a row, you drop back in the depth chart just for that and the competition level is a whole other world.
How would you describe the player-coach relationship and how it evolves from one level to the next?
Well there is tough coaching at every level no matter what. It is a bit different in the NFL because it is a business. In college for example at Temple, the coach makes all the final calls and roster moves and makes it to their liking. In the NFL you have general managers above the coaches who make the roster moves. It has a different vibe to it with all of the money involved, it is a business, and everybody is out here trying to provide for their families.
How do you feel about this new era of holding out and demanding more money in the NFL as we have seen with Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown?
Well every circumstance is different, I personally do not have a problem with it. The fans struggle with seeing why and I understand that. They have to see that this is a decision they are making for their family and the best for their future.
Who do you credit for your success?
I credit my parents for getting me to practice every day, eating the right food and taking me to school and keeping grades in check. I also credit my high school coaches from Archbishop Wood. My Head coach Steve Devlin who is at Ursinus and strength coach Joe Hallman who is now at Hatboro Horsham. In college I thank Ed Foley and the medical team with helping with my injuries. It takes a village to help make that dream of getting into the NFL to work.
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One of the biggest process trusters you will ever meet. I cover all Philadelphia teams but mostly the 76ers.