“A View from Two Benches: Bob Thomas in Football and the Law" by Doug Feldman
Football (American), biography, legal, Bears, Lions, Chargers, Giants
May 15, 2020
4 of 5 stars (very good)
While it isn't common, there are examples of professional athletes who have studied law while they were still playing sports and some have gone on to prominent legal careers. One such athlete is Bob Thomas, an associate justice for the Illinois Supreme Court. His football and legal careers are the subject of this biography by Doug Feldman.
Thomas kicked 11 years in the National Football League, primarily with the Chicago Bears, but also kicked for the Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers and New York Giants during his football career. Feldman does an excellent job of portraying the life of a NFL kicker being a nomadic one, as most kickers will often be signed by teams for brief periods to either replace an injured kicker (as Thomas was in San Diego and New York) or to find yet another kicker who will consistently perform under pressure. Thomas proved that during his time with the Bears, setting team records for scoring and remaining highly ranked in those categories for the team.
Despite the many changes, Thomas had settled in Chicago and that is where his family life was settled and where he not only studied law but became a practicing attorney, including late in his career when he kicked for other teams. His family's adventures were handled by his wife Maggie, whom Feldman does mention prominently, especially when they are moving around.
Once Thomas's career track changes from football to the law, the book also takes a different track as Thomas's faith is discussed more frequently. There are Biblical scripture readings that Bob and Maggie used to help them get through troubled times. Bob's legal career was very successful, moving up quickly through the process to become first a judge, then a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court. There is even a trial in which Bob sues a small newspaper for defamation that reads like a quick, exciting legal thriller.
While the book is approximately 70 percent about Thomas's football career and 30 percent about his legal career, both parts are equally engrossing and make for good reading. Anyone interested in football, especially kickers, will enjoy that portion of the book while those interested in his time on the Illinois Supreme Court will like the book as well.
I wish to thank University of Northern Illinois University Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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