Broderick Thomas, known as the “Sandman” during his days at Nebraska, was always known as one of the most enthusiastic Huskers in history.
The outside linebacker played four years for the Huskers, started three and earned All-America and All-Big Eight honors. He was the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 and a NFL first-round draft pick of Tampa Bay in the spring of 1989. He played with the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys.
Thomas was one of more than 150 former Huskers in town this weekend for the lettermen golf tournaments and the annual Spring Game.
He spent some time with Ken Hambleton.
So what about the “Sandman,” the player who was “bringing the wood,” and had “the keys to our house?”
I was always what you saw. I had a passion for the game since I was a little kid. When my uncle (former Chicago Bears linebacker great Mike Singletary) told me as kid, ‘You can play football or you can go get into trouble.’ I chose football. I grew up in Texas. Football is a big deal all year around in Texas. We had the Astrodome packed for a football playoff game in high school. We had spring football and we had winter conditioning in high school, so when I came to Nebraska it was nothing new to me.”
Why did you chose Nebraska when all those Texas schools wanted you?
Three people. Tom Osborne. Bob Devaney and Charlie McBride. I still get some of that being an outsider with all my Texas friends back home in Houston. But Nebraska is my family now, too.”
What keeps you busy these days?
I have Broderick Thomas Sports and Entertainment. I have a number of agents working for me. I want to get into the fund-raising efforts for kids — juvenile diabetes, getting kids away from drugs, working with Steve Warren (former Husker) and his group working with mentoring kids.
Do you follow Nebraska football?
I follow everything Nebraska. I think the volleyball team is the shining light for the university right now. They are the lady on the hood of the Rolls Royce for the university. The football program, it will make it because it must make it. The tradition, tradition, tradition makes Nebraska special and will make it special again.
Some people, including some former players, appear upset with the direction of the football program at NU. What do you think?
The way I feel is that we need to keep behind the university. Nebraska should have Tom Osborne as the athletic director. Bob Devaney was my athletic director. It seems hard to make a connection with the university but we need to keep trying. I believe Coach Callahan can coach and win.
Do you think changes are coming in the program?
They’re going to want to talk to me in a couple of years. I have a son, Broderick Thomas Jr., who is a quarterback at Elkins High (near Houston) and he is going to be great. He’s already been contacted by some big-time colleges. He’s a chip off the block. He’s not noisy like I was. My youngest son, Elijah, will be a great athlete, too. It’s not an option, they will be great. I had the same thing going for me. I had the chance to be great and I did the best I could.”