Dick Thornton
Born:(1939-11-01)November 1, 1939
Chicago, Illinois
Died:December 19, 2014(2014-12-19) (aged 75)
Manila, Philippines
Career information
CFL statusAmerican
Height6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight185 lb (84 kg)
NFL draft1961 / Round: 6 / Pick: 83
Drafted bySt. Louis Cardinals
Career history
As player
19611966Winnipeg Blue Bombers
19671972Toronto Argonauts
Career highlights and awards
CFL All-Star1963, 1965, 1971
CFL East All-Star1969, 1971
CFL West All-Star1962, 1963, 1965
Career stats

Richard Quincy "Tricky Dick" Thornton (November 1, 1939 – December 19, 2014) was an American gridiron football player and coach. He played professionally in the Canadian Football League (CFL) as a defensive back and wide receiver for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts from 1961 to 1972.[1][2]

College and NFL draft

Thornton was selected originally by the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League in the 1961 NFL Draft out of Northwestern University, where he starred at quarterback.[3] The Browns immediately traded his rights to the St. Louis Cardinals, but Thornton went to play in Canada, where he starred mostly as a defensive back.


Thornton was a star defensive back and wide receiver for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 1961 to 1966. Thornton also subbed for Kenny Ploen when Winnipeg's starting quarterback was injured. He won two Grey Cup games with them, the first in 1961, the 49th Grey Cup that went in overtime, the second in 1962, the 50th Grey Cup, played in horrendous fog, both against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In 1961, he did not play in the title game due to an injury. However, he was an important cog as cornerback on the 1962 team, after intercepting 4 passes and returning one for a touchdown, recovering two fumbles, and blocking a kick during the regular season.

In 1963, Thornton intercepted 6 passes, 3 of them for touchdowns, also returning a fumble for a touchdown. In 1964, he missed most of the season due to an injury, but recovered well in 1965, when he starred again at defensive back and wide receiver, his team making it to the 53rd Grey Cup, the nearly supernatural "Wind Bowl", this time losing to Hamilton. After 1966, when the Bombers did not make the playoffs, change was imminent.


Thornton was traded to the Toronto Argonauts in 1967 and played with them up to 1972 as one of the best defensive backs in that era. Notably, he intercepted 7 passes in 1969 from the cornerback position. He was a CFL all-star and played in the rainy 59th Grey Cup game in 1971. Despite his return of an interception of 54 yards, Toronto lost a defensive struggle to the Calgary Stampeders, 14–11.


Thornton ended his playing career with the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League (WFL).

Coaching career and later life

In April 1976, Thornton was hired as athletic director and head football coach at Southwestern at Memphis—now known as Rhodes College.[4] He resigned after the 1978 season.[5]

Thornton retired to the Philippines with his family in 1994 and died of lung cancer, in Manila, in 2014.[6][7]

Thornton was posthumously announced as a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame 2022 class on June 21, 2022.[8]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Southwestern Lynx (Independent) (1976–1978)
1976 Southwestern 4–5 1–3 T–3rd
1977 Southwestern 9–1–1 4–0 1st
1976 Southwestern 6–3 3–1 T–1st
Southwestern: 19–9–1 8–4
Total: 19–9–1
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ "CFL legends". Archived from the original on October 2, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  2. ^ "Loquacious Dick Thornton Directs Bombers Tonight" The Montreal Gazette, Sep 24, 1965
  3. ^ "Dick Thornton Picks Winnipeg" Reading Eagle, January 28, 1961
  4. ^ "Dick Thornton Promoted". El Paso Times. El Paso, Texas. Associated Press. April 21, 1976. p. 4C. Retrieved January 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  5. ^ "Thornton Resigns Position". The Tennessean. Nashville, Tennessee. Associated Press. October 28, 1978. p. 13. Retrieved January 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  6. ^ "Former Argo "Tricky Dick" Thornton dead of cancer at 75". 20 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Argonauts mourn loss of 'Tricky' Dick Thornton".
  8. ^ "Canadian Football Hall of Fame welcomes distinguished class of 2022". Canadian Football League. June 21, 2022.