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Tue., Jun. 30, 2015 11:55 AM to 2:00 PM EDT
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Inside the Helmet: Donald Thomas
What is your earliest football memory?
Well, I really didn't start playing football until I got to college ... but I remember, back when I was five years old, my dad bought me one of those little Chicago Bears kids uniform sets, with the shoulder pads and plastic helmet. I would run around the field, pretend I was a running back.
When did you start playing organized football?
My sophomore year in college.
Why the long wait?
My mom wouldn't let me do it. I tried every year to play football, but she always had an excuse. So, I played baseball and basketball. Then, when she finally was going to let me play, I weighed too much for Pop Warner. Then went to high school and we didn't have a football team.
So how did you get into football in college?
My freshman year, I saw the football team around campus and thought, 'I'm just as big as some of these guys.' After their season was over, I was playing basketball in the gym, they saw me and said, 'You go to school here?' I was like, 'Yeah.' They were like, 'Why don't you play football?' And I said, 'I don't know.' They said, 'You should probably play.' I went home for Christmas break, thought about it, and then came back to school and started working out every day, lifting weights, running. Eventually, I just walked into the football office, told them I wanted to play and they set up a little combine workout. I was a d-tackle at first, right before the spring game. They put me on the roster, I worked out with the team all summer, took a couple classes. My sophomore year I redshirted. Junior year I played kickoff return, set the wedge. My senior year, all I did was set the wedge again. Then the coach asked me to come back for my fifth year and I played guard the whole year. And got drafted. I really only played 12 games at guard in college.
That's pretty incredible.
Yeah, a lot of people don't even know it.
What was your first-ever job?
I worked at Blockbuster. I applied a week before I turned 16 and got hired two weeks later. It was great. I got to take home free movies every day, free video games … it was the best job ever. Everything was free in the store.
How about your first car?
I had a 1997 Dodge Neon. Two-door. Green. Like a forest, wintergreen. Dark green.
If you could pick any talent that you don't have right now – anything at all – what would you want to do?
I want to be able to sing. Yeah…
If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
The President. I'd want to see how much power you really have. But it seems like you would go grey doing that.