Weegie Thompson, Steelers Wide Receiver, 1984-1990
First, can you tell readers what you are doing with yourself now and how you got involved in this line of work?
I work for Potomac Environmental in Richmond, VA. Our company manages the transportation and disposal of hazardous waste and provides environmental services. I got into the environmental services business right after football working for a Pittsburgh company, Chambers Development, and have stayed in the industry since.
You were coaching for a period of time – correct? What coaching lessons from the Coach Noll/others were you able to apply to the coaching you’ve done – and what coaches did you most learn from?
I coached my kids when they were young, rec ball, little league, football, baseball, basketball, a little soccer of course. That was fun. I tried to teach good technique and the fundamentals of tackling, etc. At that level though the most important part was to make it fun. And to have fun you had to do it correctly, which takes practice. It’s especially fun when you win. I learned a lot from Chuck Noll and Bobby Bowden, but also from my position coaches, Tom Moore and in college John Eason.
What was the most difficult adjustment you had to the NFL game – and how did you manage to do so?
Adjusting to the high level of talent, the speed and the intensity at the pro level. We always worked really hard in Pittsburgh.
Obviously, your height was a big asset for you as a player. But do you feel the emphasis on your height t somewhat pigeon-holed the kind of opportunties you were given as a receiver?
Not at all, I was used just like the other receivers. Because of my size I had some different options like playing a little short yardage as a tight end.
How did you prove yourself as a rookie – and what veterans helped mentor you as a younger player?
I was a week late to camp because I held out, so I was pretty anxious about making the team. When I started practicing I did everything I could to make an impression. Training camp is rough but I loved the work. John Stallworth was a mentor to many, myself included. It meant a lot when he’d say I played well.
In turn, who were you able to mentor as you became more “seasoned” – and how did you manage to do so?
Not sure that I was a mentor to others, you’d have to ask them. I did make quite a few friends though.
You played along a HOF receiver in Stallworth – and another top receiver in Louis Lipps. Was it at all frustrating knowing there were going to be limited opportunities to get the ball – especially in those run-oriented offenses?
I never played with Swann but I did play four years with John. Louis and I were drafted together. If I was not playing, it was frustrating for sure. We all wanted to play every down.
What is your best memory – on or off the field – of your time with the Steelers?
My best was a game vs Green Bay. I scored three touchdowns that day. Living in Pittsburgh was great. Celina and I had two of our three kids that were born in Pittsburgh, Amanda in ‘87 and Will in ‘89. Chuck let me out of practice so I could be there when they were born, that was the only time I ever missed practice.
Who were the players that kept the locker room loose and focused during your time there – and how did they do so?
Frankie Pollard was the best at that. He was real fun to talk to but a tough competitor. Frankie could make you laugh at just about anything. I remember when he broke Dick Hoak’s rushing record and the tears were coming down his face. That was special.
Who was the toughest Steeler you had to line up against in practice – and what made them so?
Delton Hall! Delton if you see this, you still scare me.
Do you follow the Steelers/NFL today? What do you think of the changes to the game today – as a receiver who was known to be a good blocker, do you feel the more pass-happy league takes away or adds to the quality of the NFL game?
Of course I’ll always follow the Steelers. The game has certainly changed regarding offense. I think the quality of play is great. The passing game appears to be the biggest change from my day. I wonder what it would be like to play in an offense like that.
Any other thoughts for readers?
I am thankful for the opportunity I had to play for the Steelers and will always have great memories of my six years there. Steeler fans are the best in the NFL.