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Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now: Steve Thompson

Catch Up with the Former Jet Washington


When Steve Thompson graduated from the University of Washington in 1968, news about the NFL wasn't on television 24/7, and the word internet was a typo.

That's why it's understandable that the defensive lineman didn't know who was coaching a team on the other side of the country. And why he deserved a pass when the Jets chose him in the second round of that year's NFL Draft.

"This was a day of round television screens and lots of snow," Thompson said. "We lived in Seattle and the 49ers and the Ram, those were the only games that we could get. And occasionally a Cowboy game. In fact, the only team that actually came and scouted me personally was the Cowboys. I thought, 'Man, I'm going to be a Dallas Cowboy.'

"And then the Draft came and I get a phone call. Weeb Ewbank called and I didn't know who Weeb Ewbank was from Adam. He said, 'I'm the coach of the New York Jets. We just drafted you in the second round.' Sometimes guys would listen to (the Draft on) the radio. I wasn't. Didn't even realize you could.

"So I was really shocked. I told my wife when I hung up, 'I was drafted by the New York Jets.' She said, 'The Jets? Who are they?' I said, 'Well, they've got a guy named Joe Namath. He's a really good quarterback. That's all I know.'"

Thompson didn't know much more about the team when he reported for Training Camp at Hofstra. Fortunately, he met a few veteran players who would take him under their wings.

"One really became a good friend, Winston Hill. He was on the offensive line and I was up against him quite a bit because I was playing defensive end, so there was a lot of back and forth between us," Thompson said.

"I got to know him and Paul Crane, a couple of other Christian guys. I was a Christian and met with some of the guys in kind of a Bible study occasionally. But Winston Hill, and then eventually, Earlie Thomas. He became a really good friend. In fact, it was kind of a big deal because he was black and I, of course, was white, and they asked, 'Who do you want to room with?' I said, 'I'd like to room with Earlie Thomas.'

"For some reason, the black guys and the white guys didn't room together. I had no idea that there was any reason why that should be. And so we picked each other to be roommates.

"One of the newspaper guys interviewed me and said, 'So what's it like being a roommate with a black guy?' And I just said, 'Wow, it's crazy. He jumps up in the air and puts his pants on before his feet hit the ground. He can do amazing things.'

"Of course, the guy realized I was pulling his leg. But it was just kind of funny because what are you talking about? 'What's it like rooming with a black guy?' I had no idea why there would be any issues, and we became best friends."

Thompson could not have joined the Jets at a better time. Posting an 11-3 record in 1968, only the second winning record in their nine-year history, they beat Oakland for the AFL Championship, and then upset the NFL champion Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, 16-7.

What was the key to the team's success?

"The veterans, they'd been together for a number of years. Namath was at the peak of his game. Weeb Eubank really had an ear to Namath and listened to him. Some coaches don't listen to their quarterbacks, don't really play to their strengths. And we had Matt Snell and Emerson Boozer, two great guys running the ball, great receivers, and an offensive line," Thompson said.

"And the fact that we were 17-, 18-point underdogs (in the Super Bowl) was a big deal. And the whole thing with Namath guaranteeing that we'll beat the Colts was a lot of fun. Because, I mean, he was a coach on the field. Guys just listened to him, and he was so committed to winning. A lot of people thought he just wasn't a serious football player, but he was the most serious guy on the team.

"He was able to show us by watching the film of Baltimore, where we could beat them, some of the defensive things we could do to stop them. He was convinced that they were so good at what they did, that they wouldn't change anything that they've done. And they didn't. We knew exactly what they were going to do. We played to our strengths and their weaknesses."

With the Jets for five of his seven years in pro football, Thompson also spent one season with Portland in the World Football League and one with British Columbia in the Canadian Football League.

"Playing in the Super Bowl was the highlight of my junior high, high school, college, and professional world. And I wear my Super Bowl ring all the time," Thompson said. "I'm enjoying the afterglow of it as much as I did then. I mean, I was a rookie and didn't appreciate then what a big deal it was to play in that. That game really impacted the AFL-NFL merger and just kind of set the stage for the whole future with television and so much of what was going to come.

"Playing in a Super Bowl, it just continually is a positive influence in my life. It's always something that people want to hear about and want to ask me about."

Making their home north of Seattle, Thompson and his wife, Starla, have seven children and 28 grandchildren. Following his playing days, he was a business consultant in the wood products industry for 10 years.

"And then I went into the ministry and became a pastor at the Foursquare Church, which is a Pentecostal denomination, and did that for almost 30 years," Thompson said. "I had my own church in Marysville, Washington and we called that Victory Foursquare."

And now until Thanksgiving, Thomas who earned a doctorate in Transformational Leadership from Bakke Graduate University two years ago, will be doing ministry work on Wall Street.

"A Christian, as I studied the Bible, I see throughout history, the people that are recorded in the Bible, they had conversations with God. They had dreams. They had angelic visitations. They were directed from above. And I've learned over the years to pray and listen, and then record the things that I really sensed God was speaking to me," Thompson said.

"And now I feel this direction to come to Wall Street and help people that work in the stock market to hear God's voice, to listen to God, and to handle other people's money in a way that is honorable, just, righteous, truthful. Greed, selfishness and competition, all these kinds of things have given Wall Street really a bad name when it comes to can you trust these people?

"I really feel like I want to help them. I'm 77 and I'm like a grandpa to a lot of these younger people. I like to be able to talk to young men and women and help them in their faith journey. I love to hear their stories. I love to share my stories. I love to pray with them. I love to listen to the Lord for them."