Born: January 6, 1927
Died: October 1, 1990
Thomas Wright Thompson was born January 6, 1927 in Jersey City and grew up in Woodbridge. Bright and athletic, he was a star at Woodbridge High School for football coach Nick Priscoe. Tommy played center on offense for the Barrons and was a lineman on defense. He continued as a two-way player for William & Mary, earning a reputation as a hard-hitting linebacker.
Because of the manpower shortages created by World War II, Tommy was allowed to play varsity ball for the Lions as a freshman in 1944. He spent the next year in the military but returned to campus and played from 1946 to 1948. Tommy stood 6’2” and weighed 215 pounds. His combination of size and speed produced blocks and tackles that were noteworthy for the ferocity. Coach Rube McCoy sometimes held Tommy out of practice, fearing he would injure his teammates.
Tommy was named All-Southern Conference as a center three times and was a third-team All-American at linebacker as a senior in 1948. He led William & Mary to the Southern Conference title in 1947 and, in 1948, to victory over Oklahoma State in the Delta Bowl. By this time he had already been drafted by the “local’ NFL team, the Washington Redskins. However, Tommy had other ideas.
In the All-America Football Conference, Paul Brown’s Cleveland Browns were employing a 5–3 defense that created a position that was perfect for his skills—middle linebacker. Tommy signed with the Browns and helped them win the AAFC championship as a rookie. The AAFC folded after 1949 and the Browns entered the National Football League. With Tommy at middle linebacker, Cleveland won the NFL crown. His interception against the