Tommy Thompson

Philadelphia Eagles


Excerpted from:
The Coffin Corner Volume XVII
By Bob Carroll
(Pro Football Research Association)

Tommy Thompson was the underrated quarterback of one of the great teams in NFL history, the Philadelphia Eagles of the late 1940's. All-Pro Eagles like runner Steve Van Buren, end Pete Pihos, and center Chuck Bednarik were better known, but it was Thompson who pulled the right strings to make it all go. Thompson signed with Pittsburgh for $150 a game. Thompson was born in Hutchinson, KS, played high school football in Fort Worth, TX and college football at Tulsa. He signed to play with the Chicago Cardinals in 1939. They hadn't drafted him. But then he didn't report in September and was placed on the inactive list on the 13th of that month. The Cards released him the following March 1, 1940, because it so happened that he wasn't eligible to sign anything in 1939. His class didn't graduate until 1940. Ten days after the Cards released him, he signed with the Eagles.

In 1947, Tommy guided the Eagles to a division title, but they lost an exciting Championship Game to the star-studded Chicago Cardinals. In 1948, Thompson had his best season, throwing for a league-high 25 touchdowns and ending as the NFL's top-rated passer. The Eagles and Cardinals met again in the '48 Championship Game under the worst weather imaginable- a blizzard. Thompson did not make a mistake in a game that was bound to turn on a break. Then after a Cardinal fumble, he unerringly took the Eagles to a fourth quarter Van Buren touchdown that made them NFL champs, 7-0. The next year he quietly led the Eagles to another crown.

Tommy was a timely passer with excellent accuracy, surprising because he was blind in one eye -- a handicap that should have severely limited his depth perception. Maybe he wasn't a Hall of Famer, but he was an authentic star. When he retired after the 1950 season, most of his NFL career passing totals ranked only behind Baugh and Luckman. You'd certainly think that by this time we could get his name right.

Tommy slumped a bit in 1950, but some of that was because his best weapon, Van Buren, was hurt. In 1951 he was placed on the reserve list when he accepted a coaching position at the University of Arkansas.