HONOLULU – Washington State Athletic Hall of Famer Jack "The Throwin’ Samoan" Thompson was one of seven inductees named to the inaugural Polynesian Football Hall of Fame class, it was announced today.
Thompson, who finished his Washington State career in 1978 as the most prolific passer in the history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, went on to play six years in the National Football League, four with Cincinnati and two with Tampa Bay.
"This is a real honor and there were many very deserving finalists, that is for sure," said Thompson. "A lot of this is on the backs of my teammates at Washington State, (Mike) Levenseller, (Brian) Kelly and (Dan) Doornink. We did a lot of great things there. I also think about my father and only wish he was still around, he would get a real kick out of this."
Thompson was born in May, 1956, on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa. In 1958 his family migrated to Seattle where he was raised. He attended Evergreen High School and arrived at Washington State in the fall of 1974.
During his time at WSU, Thompson established Pacific-10 Conference and WSU records for passes attempted (1,086), passes completed (601) and total plays (1,345). He tied the conference mark for touchdown passes (53) and touchdowns responsible for (63). As a sophomore in 1976 he set a conference record for passing yards with 2,762, completions (208) and touchdown passes (20) and the following season became the first junior in the history of the conference to surpass the 5,000 yard barrier in passing. Following his senior season he was named a First-Team All-American by the Sporting News and was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals as the third overall pick in the 1979 NFL Draft.
"Jack Thompson is one of the finest players ever to don a Cougar jersey and continues to be one of the great ambassadors for Washington State Athletics," said WSU Director of Athletics Bill Moos. "He has been a pioneer for Polynesian athletes and continues to be a great example for people of all cultures. This is a tremendous honor for Jack and one that is well deserved."
In November of 2009, Thompson, one of only two football players to have his number retired at WSU, helped Washington State University and World Vision join forces to meet the ongoing needs of American Samoa residents following the devastating tsunami that struck the region two months prior. The goal was to get Cougars fans prior to the UCLA game to “Fill the Helmet” to help traumatized children and families receive much-needed supplies.
"Being a Pacific Islander, this is a cause that hits very close to home for my family and me," Thompson said at the time. "...we are asking for members of the Cougar family to aide those affected by this tragic event."
Inductees will be honored on January 23, 2014 (prior to the NFL Pro Bowl) at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s Inaugural Enshrinement Ceremony to be held at the Hawai’i Convention Center in Honolulu. ESPN SportsCenter Anchor Neil Everett and former NFL player, Philadelphia TV News Anchor Vai Sikahema will serve as Masters of Ceremonies.
The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame will serve as a resource for Polynesian Football history, provide college scholarships designated for student-athletes of Polynesian ancestry, educational programs focusing on character and teamwork for Polynesian youth and support, other initiatives impacting Polynesian culture and heritage.