Another dark day for former Sooner
Eric Thunander’s life has been filled with many sad chapters.
The latest, though, is the worst.
On Tuesday, the former Oklahoma linebacker was arrested and charged with three counts of lewd acts with a child and one count of possessions of child pornography. Those are felony charges. Those are serious crimes.
According to a court affidavit, Thunander confessed to inappropriately touching a 9-year-old girl on three occasions.
My reporter-source relationship with Thunander pre-dates my time in Oklahoma. I first met him in 1998 when he was a standout at Lee’s Summit High School in suburban Kansas City and I was a high school sports columnist at The Kansas City Star. He had the most unbelievable story — a deaf kid who’d lived in a sexual-abusive, drug-infested home but found solace on the football field.
In early 1999, Thunander committed to play at Oklahoma.
In late 1999, I moved to The Oklahoman.
I had a chance to write about him when he played as a true freshman in 1999, when he became a key reserve on the Sooners’ 2000 national championship team, then when his career was cut short by an inner-ear injury in 2001. The next time I saw Thunander was last summer when he was getting ready to release an autobiography, “Silent Thunder.” It turned out that much had happened in those seven years in between.
Thunander had battled depression, alcohol abuse and even drug use. He contemplated suicide.
But last summer, he was clean and sober and happy. As he went around the state selling his book and telling his story, he said it was the first time he’d been happy in many years. And I was happy for him.
How could you not be?
So to wake this morning to the news that Thunander had been arrested and is now in jail waiting arraignment was sad. The arch of his life story has had many peaks and valleys, but none of the dark days were any darker than this. None of the chapters were any worse.
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