|Year:||Class of 2014|
Theodore Paul “Touchdown Teddy” Popson, arrived at College of Marin in 1986 and ended up joining a losing team where he discovered a passion for the game that propelled him into an unexpectedly stellar professional career.
“I had no intentions of playing football whatsoever,” says Popson, who would play tight-end in the 1994 Super Bowl victory by the San Francisco 49ers. “It never crossed my mind.”
He had loved baseball, soccer and wrestling but was the smallest kid in his class, a self-described “runt.”
His older brother Dwight was at COM, however, and extremely persuasive. The football team needed bodies and Coach Jim Dickey welcomed with him with open arms. So, he went to the library and checked out a Sports Illustrated book on the game to learn how to play.
“I was very intimidated at first,” he says. “I had no clue what I was doing. Fortunately the people there were very supportive and encouraging and took me under their wing and really helped me out.”
Coach Dickey, the other coaches on campus and the equipment manager—they all helped Popson find his way through a difficult time in his life. Football was a great outlet. Dickey helped him find his way to playing tight-end and no one was more surprised than Popson when things clicked and he fell in love with the game.
“The coaches they were always there,” Popson recalls. “They were supportive of me as a person, not just a football player. They saw beyond that.”
He learned discipline and commitment. The learning curve was huge.
“You had these individuals that were working for the school but taking a very personal interest in the job they do and the people they impact,” Popson says. “At that particular point in time, they don’t necesarily see the long-term affects that this is going to have on somebody, but it had a huge impact on my life.”
Coaches enforced in him a new work ethic. At the time, there were so few players on the team that players often ended up on both offense and defense.
“They enforced who I was as a player and as a person. I was the first guy there and the last guy to leave. Things clicked and I got a passion for the game.”
At the end of the year, the team was 1 and 19, Popson says. But, he still ended up getting an opportunity to prove himself and evntually earned a scholarship to a university. It is a lesson that he remembers to this day.
“If you work hard and you shine, people will notice.”
With only a year of football camp under his belt, Popson was invited to play at Portland State’s spring camp. He sold everything he owned to buy a plane ticket and lived in a vacant house without power, electricity or water. He slept on the floor.
“I stuck it out and worked really hard and during those couple weeks they realized I had some skills,” he says. “I was fortunate.”
In 1991, he was drafted by the New York Giants, then played for the London Monarchs in the European World League (now called NFL Europe) for a year. In 1993, he joined the San Francisco 49ers practice squad and played the following year in the 1994 Super Bowl championship game. In 1997, he signed as free agent with the chiefs. He retired just before the 1999 season.
Since then he has co-hosted a sports talk radio program, “Steak & Popson,” with Steve Salisbury at KAHI AM 950, in Sacramento and worked for 95.7 FM in San Francisco
This is his first year as a volunteer coach at Sierra College.
Popson works in real estate and lives with his wife, Shannon, and son in the foothills of Auburn.