Whatever happend to...Art Thoms May 23, 2005 19:22:22 GMT -5
Post by TheShadow on May 23, 2005 19:22:22 GMT -5
Art Thoms played for the Raiders for eight seasons, 1969-1976. He was known as a “great guy on a great team.” He was part of a Super Bowl title team, though he didn’t play because he was injured. But he does have a claim to fame: he was fortunate enough to line up with a few celebrities. Otis Sistrunk (1972-79) was the man from the University of Mars, Jim Otto (1960-74) was “00,” and Willie Brown (1967-78) is considered one of the best cornerbacks to have played the game. Not bad for a guy in the trenches.
We had a chance to catch up with “King” for our Whatever Happened to... series.
Raiders.com: We have to know about this nickname - King?
Art Thoms: It started as “King Arthur.” That whole Camelot thing, you know. But it got shortened to “King.” I still see some guys who call me “King” and it brings back a lot of good memories.
Raiders.com: When did you start playing football?
Art Thoms: I started playing football in high school. It was the freshman team at Wayne High School in Wayne, N.J. I played two years there and then my family moved to Brickjohn, NJ. I played the last two years of high school ball there. I couldn’t play Pop Warner when I was growing up because I was too heavy. Go figure. They have a weight limit. I starved myself for two weeks and still couldn’t get under the max.
Raiders.com: How did you become a Raider?
Art Thoms: I was a first round pick by the Raiders in the 1969 draft out of Syracuse University.
Raiders.com: What did it mean for you to wear the Silver and Black?
Art Thoms: It was great. I was born and raised on the East Coast. I made a couple of trips out to the West Coast, to play Cal and UCLA, and I liked what I saw. When I decided to continue my career in the NFL, I wanted to play for a winning team in California. I got my wish.
Raiders.com: What is your greatest memory from playing with the Raiders?
Art Thoms: I don’t know about a greatest memory. I had a great time here. If I had to pick one memory though it would have to be our Monday night game at Buffalo (09/16/1974). With two minutes left, the Bills were trying to run the clock out because they were up 14-13. Jim Braxton went right and fumbled the ball. I picked it up and rumbled into the end zone for a 29-yard TD fumble recovery. We went up 20-14. But the Bills came back and won the game on a 13-yard TD pass to Ahmad Rashad.
Winning Super Bowl XI was great but bittersweet for me. I had played for the team for seven years and we made it to the Super Bowl but I was injured. I was on Injured Reserve for the big game. We won and I got a ring, but man I wanted to play.
Raiders.com: Is there any one moment or play that stands out from your career?
Art Thoms: Back in ’72 I earned NFL Defensive Player of the Week honors for my performance in our game against the Houston Oilers (10/9/1972). The game was at Houston. We went into the Astrodome and killed them. We won 34-0. Their QB Dan Pastorini (1980) was 3 of 21 for 31 yards with four interceptions. I had one of those picks. Otis Sistrunk had a pick off of a ball I deflected. They put the backup QB in and we picked him off too. The best part though is that I still see Pastorini from time to time. “There goes that damn Art Thoms again,” is all he ever says!
Raiders.com: Which team did you enjoy playing against the most?
Art Thoms: I enjoyed playing the Cowboys. It sounds weird but I liked having to match wits with Coach (Tom) Landry. He had such creative offenses. It was a challenge to read and react to his schemes. (Thoms was 1-0 against the Cowboys in the regular season, beating them at home, 23-27 (12/14/1974)).
Raiders.com: Do you keep in contact with any of your former teammates?
Art Thoms: Of course. I see a lot of guys at golf tournaments and celebrity autograph sessions. I talk to Marv Hubbard (1969-75) and Ted Kwalick (1975-77) at these things all the time. I’m supposed to play in Kenny Stabler’s (1970-79) golf tournament in Mobile, Ala. And of course, George Buehler (1969-78) married my wife’s sister. I get to see quite a bit of him because we’re family now.
Raiders.com: Do you still attend any Raider games?
Art Thoms: Heck yeah! I have three season tickets. Had them since the team came back to the Bay in 1995. Section 118, behind the Raider bench. I’ll go with my sons or my daughter depending on who wants to go.
Raiders.com: What are you doing now?
Art Thoms: Well, before I stopped playing football I invested in coin operated laundromats. I wanted no part of a restaurant or bar because I knew that would be too much work. Laundromats are less work and the income is steady. I also own a sports memorabilia store in Pleasant Hill. It’s funny, but I work harder now than I ever did. My wife and I have four kids (three sons and a daughter) that we’ve put through school. As a matter of fact, my daughter just graduated from college a few weeks ago. My wife and I are starting to plan our retirement. We always joke that we’ll buy a condo in Hawaii. I’d like to get one of those ice cream pushcart things. I can show off my Super Bowl ring and sell ice cream! Ice cream sales and golf. Lots of golf.
Raiders.com: Are there any messages you would like to pass along to the Raider fans?
Art Thoms: Look forward to an exciting season. The offense is gonna score big and the defense is going to hold the lead. Mr. Davis wants to win and he’s put together a team that can do that. It’s going to be fun.