I have never met an athlete quite like Chris Thompson. I’ve met and covered a lot of athletes I like and respect. Thompson is unique. There’s something about him that’s hard to describe, but the best stab would be to categorize it as extreme humility. He’s the kind of guy who makes you feel important. He gives you the time. He’s engaging, no matter who you are.
I’m supposed to be an objective journalist and when it comes to evaluating his play, I can be without problem. The tape is the tape. The plays are the plays. On a personal level though, I am heartbroken over his injury. I’m not supposed to be for the reasons just stated, but I think it’s also part of my job to let you, the fans, inside the locker room and if I didn’t explain why I’d actually be doing you a disservice.
Thompson broke his fibula in the 3rd quarter and could be seen crying as he was carted off the field. He was carted out of the locker room to the bus after the Redskins heartbreaking loss, and a man so often filled with warmth and joy looked drained of all positive emotions. Plainly, he looked broken.
His teammates were heartbroken, too. Samaje Perine has no interest in talking about his 100-yard day. He was too upset for Thompson. Vernon Davis admitted how difficult it will be to replace him. Kirk Cousins echoed a sentiment that he’s stated before, which is that Thompson is as good of a man and teammate as the Redskins have.
The fourth-year running back has been through so much, both personally and professionally. On the injury front alone we’re talking about a guy who has come back from a torn ACL and a broken back among other injuries. Personally, he’s played through all kinds of adversity, some of which is public and some of which is not.
He’s also had extreme personal and professional triumph over the past year and change. His brother was released from prison. He’s entered a wonderful personal relationship. He’s blossomed into one of the premier weapons in one of the premier offenses in the NFL.
The world’s greatest roller coasters have nothing on Thompson’s story.
We talked about much of this in an interview earlier this year after he signed an extension with the Redskins. The extension never changed Thompson. He was the same player. He is the same man.
The injury won’t either. He’ll get up tomorrow and go to work, whatever that is. Soon it will be surgery. Then it will be rehab. Eventually, he’ll play again and he’ll be the same as he ever was, but that path will be long. He’s been through injuries before and I’d imagine the broken look on his face was from knowing just how long that path is, not any physical pain though that must be immense.
He may have looked broken, but Chris Thompson will not break. He jokes his resiliency comes from his little man syndrome. Only Thompson could turn a Napoleon complex into a positive trait.
He finishes the year as the Redskins leading rusher and receiver through 11 weeks. Replacing him will fall to Perine and Byron Marshall, as well as surely a third running back to be signed this week. Getting Jordan Reed back becomes essential as well to help replace his pass production. Kirk Cousins will finish the year essentially never having a full complement of weapons ever healthy at the same time.
Thompson’s character is what gives me the certainty that he will eventually be back and every bit as good as he has been. It’s also the reason it hurts.
This is a brutal sport played by tough men. It’s also played by many, many good men. Chris Thompson is as good as any them.
Follow 106.7 The Fan’s Craig Hoffman on Twitter.