No matter what Charles Thompson does for the rest of his life, he knows some will always see him as the fallen football hero on the cover of Sports Illustrated in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit.
His 1989 arrest and guilty plea on cocaine charges ended his college football career at the University of Oklahoma in spectacular and public fashion. Thompson said it also changed him profoundly, which is why he put so much effort into defending himself when he felt he was wrongly arrested on a much less serious complaint in 2006.
Oklahoma City agreed last week to pay Thompson $50,000 and issue a letter of regret to settle a lawsuit he filed claiming he was wrongfully arrested in 2006 for public intoxication and disturbing the peace. City officials declined to comment on the case.
Thompson said Friday he admitted his crimes in college and paid the price for them because he knew what he did was wrong. Since that time, he has built a new life for himself.
"I'm content with who I've become today," Thompson said.
"The reason I had a problem with this case is that it did not represent who I've become. That was important."
The Sports Illustrated cover showing Thompson in handcuffs was the image that came to typify the excesses of college football in the late 1980s. A year earlier, Thompson was quarterbacking the No. 1 ranked Sooners as they nearly won a national championship.
"That was a young kid who made a mistake," Thompson said. "I was convicted on that both through the courts and on my heart. I came out a different person."
Thompson said he became a rededicated Christian. When he was released from prison, he began speaking to kids about the dangers of drugs. As embarrassing as his arrest and imprisonment were, Thompson doesn't shy away from the subject because he sees it as a powerful story that enables him to reach young people on a different level.
"That has been the platform that has allowed me to do a lot of good things in the lives of kids," he said. "That's what motivates me moving forward."
Thompson founded a little league football program that grew to more than 30 teams in 2006. On Nov. 17, 2006, Thompson rented a room at the Residence Inn, 4361 W Reno Ave., for a group of parents and kids in preparation for a televised game the next day.
The kids watched film of themselves playing during the day. After the kids left, a group of parents and coaches stayed to paint banners and make final preparations for the game.
About midnight, a hotel employee called police saying she had received several noise complaints about Thompson's group.
Thompson and the others in the room claimed they weren't making noise and that hotel officials confused them for another room where a loud party was going on.
According to a police report, officers arrived to find a belligerent Thompson who smelled of alcohol. After his arrest, police said he asked them if they knew who he was and yelled at others in the room to get Mayor Mick Cornett on the phone so he could fix the situation.
Thompson and five witnesses said he had been in the room all day, there was no alcohol in the room, and Thompson had not been drinking.
Thompson acknowledged he was upset. He paid $200 to rent the room and didn't agree with police telling him he had to leave. He said he also was bothered by the officers' behavior.
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That has been the platform that has allowed me to do a lot of good things in the lives of kids. That's what motivates me moving forward."