Alumni Spotlight: William (Billy) Thompson
William (Billy) Allen Thompson played in the National Football League (NFL) for the Denver Broncos as a defensive back from 1969-1981. A 3rd round draft choice out of Maryland Eastern Shore, Billy wore number 36. He was also an accomplished returner. In fact, as a rookie, he became the only player in NFL history to lead the league in punt returns and kickoff returns in the same season.
Billy Thompson, regarded by many as the best defensive back in Denver Broncos annals, was the only Ring of Fame inductee in 1987. He was the first player in team history to play 13 seasons with Denver, and he was the team captain for many years. Thompson, despite being retired for 18 seasons, still ranks second on the Broncos' all-time list for games started with 178, second in consecutive starts with 142, and sixth in games played with 179. He finished his career with 61 turnovers, (most in team history), 40 of which came via interceptions (third in team history). He holds two NFL records, one of which has stood for over two decades. As a rookie in 1969, Thompson became the only player in NFL history to lead the league in both kickoffs and punt returns in the same season. He is also one of only two players in NFL history to return four opponent fumbles for touchdowns.
Thompson was a three-time Pro Bowl selection (1977, '78 and '81), and earned All-NFL honors twice (1977 and '78) and All-AFC honors four times (1977-79, '81). Billy also enjoyed a brilliant career at Maryland State (now Maryland-Eastern Shore), earning All-CIAA honors three times as a defensive back and being named team MVP as a senior. He also twice earned NAIA All-America honors. Thompson also made All-CIAA three times in baseball as a centerfielder.
After retiring from the Broncos Thompson became a college scout for the organization for two years before moving into his current positions as Director of Player Relations and Alumni Coordinator. Billy has a pivotal role with both the current players and the alumni. As Director of Player Relations, he
coordinates three major functions: family assistance, continuing education and career development. Each of these programs is designed to assist the player in his life off the field. The Broncos have had the highest ranking in the NFL for players returning to college and obtaining their degrees in the two years that Billy has headed the program.
In addition, he has outstanding record in placing players in their field of interest. His family assistance programs focus on everything from helping new players adjust to a new city-to providing a network of assistance in case of a family crisis. As Alumni Coordinator, Billy works with the Alumni Council and former Broncos who live in the area and are considered an important part of the Broncos organization. Billy started his career with the Denver Broncos as a defensive back playing 13 seasons and was selected to the All-Pro team three times. A third round draft choice from Maryland Eastern Shore, Billy was elected to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1985 and was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame in 1987. During his career, he intercepted forty passes and recovered twenty-one returns in the same year. Prior to joining the Broncos, Billy was the owner/operator of a McDonald's franchise in Castle Rock. Very active in the community, Billy is a member of the Board of Directors' of the African American Leadership Institute, Metropolitan State College and volunteers time with the Urban League, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and several other non-profit organizations. A motivational speaker, Billy is often out in the community speaking to area youth groups.
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