By Tra Thomas
Following my father, William Thomas, in football as a youngster, Florida State University was one of the teams my family watched on TV every Saturday during football season.
When I became a senior at DeLand High School and became a football standout myself, I became more attracted to the FSU football program.
When coach Bobby Bowden and one of his assistant coaches came to my home to recruit me, my mind was made up. I was FSU-bound.
I was proud to be a Seminole. Coach Bowden won the school’s first national championship my freshman year. Now that’s ’Nole’s pride.
After I retired from professional football, coach Bowden and I met again at a football gala. He said, “Son, I am so proud of you. I followed you all through your professional career. Didn’t I tell you, you could be an All-American!”
Coach Bowden was not only my football coach, he was my second dad. I was saddened to hear of his transition. But I know he is given his rest.
For he never stopped loving and caring for young men (I am proud to be one of them), and he pushed them to their fullest potentials.
Rest in peace, coach Bowden; a job well done. For your work was not in vain.
— Thomas lives now in DeLand.
From the governor’s office
“On Sunday, Aug. 8, former Florida State University head football coach Bobby Bowden passed away.
“Bowden was an impactful leader and empowered his players to be the same.
“He lived a remarkable life with a strong Christian foundation serving God’s purpose on and off the field.
“Bowden was the inaugural recipient of the Governor’s Medal of Freedom, the highest citizen award the governor can give. He also holds recognition in the College Football Hall of Fame as of 2006.
“He will be remembered as one of the best coaches of all time, a legendary Floridian, and a man of God.”
— From the office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in an Aug. 13 order to lower flags to half-staff in Bowden’s honor.