After opting out of his contract with the Toronto Argonauts in September to pursue NFL opportunities, Marcus Thigpen has received one.
It just comes in a very different form than anyone might have imagined.
The electric running back and returner was named one of two new members selected for the NFL Legends Development Program, joining the NFL Football Operations department for the rest of the 2020 season. In its fifth year, the NFL Legends Development Program provides players with an opportunity to explore careers in football by gaining business experience and exposure in the league office.
“The NFL Legends Development program was created to provide players an opportunity to stay in the game,” Tracy Perlman, NFL senior vice president of football communications and marketing said in a statement.
“So many Legends want to explore additional opportunities to continue their football career. This program gives them a chance to deepen their understanding of the business side of the industry while broadening their experience.”
In addition to further developing professional skills and contributing to the success of the game, participants will be paired with an executive-level mentor for the duration of their assignment.
Thigpen, who was nominated for the 2020 program by the Buffalo Bills, will focus on player engagement. This includes assisting with upcoming initiatives aimed at supporting current players and NFL Legends in their personal and professional development.
“Being able to serve, empower, and educate current players and NFL Legends brings me such tremendous joy,” Thigpen said. “There is an unmatched level of success and fulfillment when you find gratitude in helping others achieve their goals on and off the field.”
The 34-year-old played 18 games for Saskatchewan last season, his third year with the Riders (2017-2019), tallying 201 rush yards, 26 catches for 161 receiving yards, 640 total return yards and five total touchdowns and signed with Toronto as a free agent.
Thigpen made a name for himself at Indiana University, where he had a successful four-year career from 2005-2008 as a running back and kick returner. After college, Thigpen spent time with the Eagles and Broncos during training camp in 2009 before joining the CFL.
The Detroit native first made his mark in 2010 after being signed by Hamilton and spent two seasons with the Ticats, where he became the first player in CFL history to score a touchdown five different ways in one season — receiving, rushing, punt return, kick return and missed field goal return — accomplishing the feat in 2010.
The five-foot-nine, 195-pound versatile playmaker spent four seasons in the NFL (2012-2015) before his stint with Saskatchewan. He played a total of 50 games over that span for Buffalo, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Miami, including back-to-back 16 game seasons for the Dolphins in 2012 and 2013. Thigpen recorded over 2,500 kick return yards and 919 punt return yards with two return touchdowns in his NFL career.
A fan favourite for his big-play ability, Thigpen is wisely using the 2020 season to set himself up for the next stage of his football career.