NEW YORK CITY - Julius Thomas' dad says if the talented young tight end helps the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll can only blame himself.
Greg Thomas explained why when he bumped into 7SPORTS Anchors Lionel Bienvenu and Arran Andersen as they were doing their nightly Drive For the Championship appcast on the NFL's Super Bowl Boulevard, a football-themed events district for fans in Manhattan.
"How exciting is this for you and Julius? I mean, Super Bowl 48, man," Lionel asked the father.
"Man, you know, a couple years ago, I never imagined (being here), four years ago really never imagined," Greg Thomas said.
"This biggest part of it, I've got my former coach on one sideline, Pete Carroll, I've got my son on the other sideline," the father said.
"I always tell the story, if it wasn't for Pete, Julius wouldn't be born. Amazing story," Greg Thomas said.
"Give us the story," Aaron said.
Back in the day, Greg Thomas was a star wide receiver at the University of Pacific in Stockton, Calif.
"I got to my junior year, you know, I'm 6-6, [I'm] killing, No. 2, No. 3 receiver in the country," the father said.
Then a new assistant coach named Pete Carroll arrived.
As Greg Thomas recalls, "Pete comes in, pulls me in the office, 'Greg, hey, sit down, want to talk to you. I got this new offense that I'm putting in with this one [running] back. And then I'm watching film of you last year, you're double, triple covered. Hey, I want to make you an H-back and line you up all over the field, backfield, slot, wing, keep you in motion."
This would force opposing defenses to cover Greg Thomas with one man.
"I'm like, 'Sounds like fun, I'll do it,'" Greg Thomas.
Then, one day, Greg Thomas was blocking in a tight end role and several players fell on his leg, blowing out his knee.
"I didn't play again," said the father, who doesn't show a bit of sadness or bitterness about the end of his career.
"If it wasn't for Pete… if people left me at wide [receiver], I would have probably gone out into the (NFL). You know, life takes different paths."
Instead, "I hung around Stockton, got married, started a family and out pops Julius. Is that great?" the father says with a laugh.
"So, if Julius does something to win the game, if Pete loses, whose fault is it? It's Pete's own fault," Greg Thomas says, laughing again.
Wearing his son's No. 80 jersey and a Broncos' cap, the father is clearly proud of his son, who first starred as a college basketball forward, playing four seasons for Portland State. He only started playing football for the school after his eligibility as basketball player ended.
Julius' first two years with the Broncos were marred by injuries.
But the 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end battled back with hard work during the off-season.
Lionel asks, "To see your son out here and the season he's had and…the injuries that Julius had coming along…this season, has it been a dream come true for the family?"
"To be honest, you can't even call it a dream," said the father, now a high school principal who still lives in Stockton.
"Julius, I've always told people, when you set goals and sometimes when you shoot for the moon, hey, you might land on the stars. [Julius'] goal coming into the off-season was to be a starter," said Greg Thomas, explaining his philosophy of building on step-by-step goals.
Julius got the message.
"Dad, he said, 'I didn't sign up to stand on the sideline on Sunday….Come time the season starts, I want be the starting tight end.' That was his goal. And because of all his hard work, now you see what happened," the father said.
This has been a breakout season for Julius Thomas. He caught 65 passes, 12 for touchdowns, and he was voted to the Pro Bowl.
He's become a favorite target of Peyton Manning, who worked with Julius in the off-season and practice, stoking his confidence.
It all paid off in the Broncos' AFC championship game victory over the New England Patriots, when Manning connected with Thomas on eight passes for 85 yards.
"He is a big part of why we are here this week," Manning said at Super Bowl Media Day this week.
Greg Thomas can't praise Manning's mentoring role enough.
"Come on, that's the dream, that's the dream," he told Lionel and Arran, "to have Peyton Manning show up on your door step, on your squad. That's the dream."
The Drive for the Championship appcast is from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and can be seen by downloading the 7NEWS app on your smartphone. Get the app by searching "7NEWS Denver" in the app store.