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BECOMING AN ATHLETE AGAIN
Meet Thomas Gordon
WRITTEN BY: DONNE' WYNN
JUNE 24, 2018
I've gain the opportunity to actually get to know Thomas Gordon not only by interviewing him but personally meeting him at a strength and conditioning gym. The gym known as Performance 80 is owned by one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in Michigan, Christopher Huff.
Gordon is an alumnus from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan who played football for the school.
Who then soon became a safety at the University of Michigan.
How would you describe your experience with the University of Michigan football team?
"It was a dream come true. Growing up I always wanted to put on the winged helmet.That school is the reason I feel in love with the game. I knew all the players, positions, numbers, and followed all their statistical categories. The campus is small yet enormous. Everybody in Ann Arbor knows you and they let it be known. I've gotten the chance to travel to a lot of places and make tons of connections because of my time with Michigan. "
Can you describe your experience playing your first Big Ten game?
"My first Big Ten game was at Indiana in 2010. We were 4-0 and were riding a wave at the moment. Lace (Denard) was on a role and was an early Heisman contender. It was on ESPN and I remembered telling all my family to tune in back home. I started the game and it fell nothing short of fireworks. It was a very close game that squeaked and it was high scoring. Their crowd was very rowdy, something I didn't expect from a sub par team. I learned that day that everywhere Michigan we would receive the oppositions best shot. I just remembered trying to contain myself and lock in on my assignments but, that was the first of many starts but certainly memorable."
Do you think Cass Technical High School football prepared you for your collegiate career and if yes, could you describe how so?
"To a certain degree, yeah I do feel like CT has prepared me. People think that Cass just started pumping out top notch talent as of late because of winning multiple state titles. However, even before me we've had a host of D1 talent that has walked through doors. Having a coach like Thomas Wilcher, who also went to Michigan was definitely beneficial because he knew what it would take to reach the next level. Now on the contrary, I feel like I wasn't prepared for the time management of being a student athlete nor the physical demands (like conditioning). You get stretched very thin juggling your time and obligations being a collegiate athlete. Balancing social life, school, personal affairs, and football was something I for sure wasn't ready for."
What was your most memorable collegiate experience?
"Winning the Sugar Bowl down in New Orleans. Before the NCAA changed formats to a playoff system there was the BCS (Bowl Championship Series). We got invited to one and that was a huge deal! We had a great season that year and had a chance to win 11 games. The most wins a Michigan team has had since 2003-04. The bowl events beforehand were top of the line, Bourbon Street lived up to the hype, and we won the game in OT with a walk off FG! That is a moment I will never forget!"
The former Michigan Safety compiled a total of 229 tackles (133 solo and 96 assisted), 11.5 tackles for a loss of 48-yards, six interceptions, three sacks, four forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries, and not only that runs a 4.45 in the 40 dash! After the years of being on the University of Michigan football team, dreams were soon to become a reality when the young athlete is now drafted into the NFL to become a safety for the New York Giants.
When the time came for you to be drafted into the NFL, could you describe your emotions then?
"It's a lot of preparation. The whole draft process can be tough but I learned to embrace the draft process, because you only get to experience it once. A lot of players don't get to that point in their careers. I felt grateful and excited that I was on the cusp of achieving a lifelong goal."
From the information that I dug up, it seems like you had a back and forth transaction going on with the New York Giants. Would you like to explain the inconsistency that went on with that?
"The one thing I miss about college was I didn't have to think about contracts and what-ifs. It wasn't a business, just playing the game I love. Professional sports are a business. Something I had to learn overtime and has helped me understand how somethings went down the way they did in New York. Because I was drafted highly I had to scrap my way on the roster in NY. A lot of guys didn't belong and I knew I was better. I was told I was better by staff but when money becomes involved and it becomes a number game, it doesn't shake your way being at the "end" of the totem pole. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my time there and soaked in every moment."
What was your family's reaction about you not playing with the New York Giants anymore?
"They were definitely disappointed. Not in me but at "how could they?" I was coming back to them with nothing but good reports. It was a blindside to me so I knew they felt worse. They always wanted the best from me because I'm the baby. I've achieved all my goals in life and this was probably the first time it didn't go as planned. Its also hard to explain to people, even family, the intricacies of professional sports. They seen ESPN ticker and talk shows and think that's it. Its much more to it they didn't understand so you try your best to help them understand."
Despite the NFL, how did you get recruited to the Toronto Argonauts?
"I was only 25 after my second stint with the Giants. So, I knew I still had a lot of playing left in my tank. After so long of trying for another shot in the NFL I started to explore other playing options. The CFL came up and it was a difficult decision at the time but one I am now happy I made. My team reached out and they immediately hit us back for a tryout and the rest is history.
How many seasons did you play with the Argonauts and did you enjoy your season(s) with them?
"I played one season with them in The 6 (slang name for Toronto). I was back playing the game I love(d) so I was very happy. I was able to take care of family and I just had my daughter. It was great to experience a city like Toronto with my family."
What's the difference in playing for the CFL and NFL? Were there any similarities?
"A lot of people misinterpret the talent level. There are a ton of guys up North who play high level football. Not at every position like the NFL but there is definitely a lot of talent. The CFL game is a bit faster. You have to diagnose really quick. Especially since the play clock is shorter than the NFL's but, in the end the game is still running and tackling."
Even after the whole swiftness and changes made in his professional career his grind still does not stop! Gordon now has a Youtube series called "Becoming An Athlete Again" where he shows you his eating habits and daily routines down at the gym.
So I've been following your Youtube series "Becoming An Athlete Again," what inspired you to create it?
"I've always been a fan of Youtube and it's ability to let anyone share good quality and creative content to the world. I wanted to give people an inside look on what it takes to play with the 1-percent of elite athletes. My mission is to ultimately grow a fan base or following. I feel like I can share a perspective on a life that many want to know about. And eventually start to share my fitness content to help people achieve a healthy lifestyle."
Would you like to return to the league?
"Most definitely. Although I like the CFL for what it has provided me I want another shot in the NFL and hopefully I have a FAIR shot and opportunity to play. Its a long road but it will be done."
Do you still currently speak or are in contact with any players or coaches who are currently still in the NFL or CFL?
"Of course and because of social media all of the friendships I've made are easily maintained."
Do any of them try to convince to come back and play professional football?
"They all see my workouts on Instagram and Facebook and chirp and chime in on if/when I'm playing again. Hence, my Youtube series Becoming An Athlete AGAIN. Plans are in motion and I'll be back. I just want to drop it on everybody all of a sudden. So, at the moment football is a TBD."
What advice do they try to give you?
"You know they usually come to me for advice. Guys that I've played with tell me to hang in there and all that. I don't need pats on my back and half-ass encouragement. The chip on my shoulder is big enough as it is. I'm on a path that God put me on and it's coming to fruition."
What advice could you give to the athletes entering the 2018 NFL Draft?
"Enjoy the moment. At times it's going to be stressful. That's what NFL teams want to see. Who can handle this process? If you can't handle the demands and all it entails, you'll definitely fall short of expectations in whatever city you'll land in. Be authentic and be you. Don't try and impersonate become someone and something you are not. Pray a lot and grind your ass off!"
Thomas Gordon has been a tremendous player on the field and in soul and mind. His focus does not veer from his dreams and providing for his family. To follow him on his journey you can look at his Youtube channel series "Becoming An Athlete Again."