Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Tribute To Ed Thomas

Many people who have followed my blog in the past know I do more criticizing of people in the sports world rather than give them praise. It is just how I operate. However today I want to talk about a man who people should look up to and model themselves after whose life was tragically taken away by a former player and student. Many people don't know this but my parents live in the state of Iowa just about 70 miles away from where Ed Thomas's lived in the town of Parkersburg. I remember the storm that ripped Parkersburg to shreds and I remember the E:60 story on how Thomas used football to uplift the spirits of a community in shambles. Forget that he has 292 wins as a head coach. Forget that he won two state titles. Forget he has four players right now playing in the NFL. Forget that he went to the 1A State playoffs in Iowa 19 times. He will be remembered for all of that sure, but its his heart people should remember. The fact is he cared more than anyone about making boys into respectable young men. In a sports state where we see the Iowa Hawkeyes have 26 arrests in 26 months because of lack of life skills being taught and probably questionable players being recruited to the school, he focused on making boys into stand up gentlemen. He taught them life lessons. Ed Thomas was a model coach. Someone who if you want to be a coach at any level you would want to be. He won over 77 percent of his games while making his boys into men. Now a days you would be lucky to have that winning percentage without having some guys who make the news for all the wrong reasons. Sure he had some bad eggs (including the man who would end up taking his life) but Thomas always gave people a second chance and pushed them to learn from their mistakes and become a better person through the experience. A town of 1800 in Iowa is all over ESPN because of the death of their head coach. That doesn't happen by accident.

Remembering Him
I want to share some of the things people have said about Ed Thomas from people who knew him best.

"We didn’t just lose a football coach. We lost an icon,” said Tom Teeple, Thomas's Barber-Des Moines Register.

“He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He really cared about every one of those players like (they) were his own kids. It’s just hard to believe that somebody would do something like this.”-Brad Meester, Jacksonville Jaguars Center-Des Moines Register

A rock is gone. A year ago, Ed Thomas reminded us of all that was good in the human spirit; the strength of community; the power of hope. Wednesday, he reminded us of the frailty of life; the senseless; the random; the tragic; the dark side that festers deep within us all.-Sean Keller, Des Moines Register Columnist.
"This is Iowa's John Lennon assassination. This is something and someone no one will ever forget."-Ken Miller, 1460 KXNO radio host in Des Moines-ESPN Story

"I wish I could give an organ. I wish there was just something I could. I had just signed a new contract he and I hadn't talked about it yet. And I just can't fathom the idea that he and I won't speak again."-Denver Broncos center Casey Wiegmann-ESPN Story

He demanded more out of me than I thought I had in me, and you know what? That's one of the things that made him such a great man-Taylor Schrage, former player-Des Moines Register.

In 37 seasons he not only he made Falcons football what it is but he made people better for just knowing him. The shoes left by Thomas are bigger than any high school, college, or even professional coach ever left. He not only won games, he won with class. He won while making his players better people. That is the mark of a great coach and a great human being. R.I. P Coach Thomas. Many will miss you. The man who took Thomas's life 24 year old Matt Becker will be on trial July 2nd.

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