The ‘Free Thump Belton’ Movement

June 23, 2007

“… And can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in, sing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. Now then, friends, they may think it’s a movement…. And that’s what it is….”

— from Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie

For those of you not aware of the Free Thump Belton Movement, let me bring you up to speed…

Back in March, a Denver Broncos fan with the screen name Fan In Exile read a post on the message board about players on the roster that would certainly be cut before the regular season. He was struck most by the negative nature of the post and the way purported fans ridiculed these unknown Broncos.

“It really irritated me first because we on the board aren’t pro-talent evaluators, and it was only march. So I decided I wanted to cheer for someone who really looked like he wouldn’t make the team, instead of just writing him off as camp fodder. I mean these are real people chasing their dreams – that’s worth cheering on.”

— Fan in Exile 6/21/07

That decision lead him to review the list composed by the author of the post. Among the list, was a name he had never seen before (anywhere) — Fullback Thump Belton.

Thump Belton was picked up by the Broncos in late 2006. He had not played a game in the NFL although he spent 2004 and 2005 on the practice squads of Detroit and Chicago. Without pro experience and sitting behind guys like Kyle Johnson, Troy Fleming, Cecil Sapp and Paul Smith, Belton looked like the perfect long-shot to root for. However, Fan In Exile did not just pick Belton because of his long odds –he liked the idea of a fullback named THUMP.

Now that he had his player picked out, it was time to activate the masses. And with an elegant post including a quote from Animal House, the Free Thump Belton Movement was launched!

“So here’s the plan, we start a movement. We come up with sigs and a slogan. We do everything we can to make sure he stays with the team and becomes the starting fullback. Then we can make signs and posters and tee-shirts and go to games it will be awesome.”

— Fan In Exile 3/8/07


Line Break

Now, more than three months after his first post, the Free Thump Belton Movement has picked up some momentum. In recent articles on Thump, Andrew Mason from denverbroncos.com referred to the Movement and it is even found it’s way into Belton’s Wikipidia page.

“I have been surprised. I didn’t know Andrew even read the boards much less that he noticed the Free Thump Belton Movement. It also surprised me that someone would put it on Thump’s Wikipedia page. I think it’s pretty cool.”

— Fan In Exile 6/21/07

And as articles on Belton began coming out, we learned more about this relatively unknown player.

Belton, it turns out, was one of the hottest recruits in North Carolina after rushing for 1,327 yards and 18 touchdowns during his senior year at West Charlotte High School. Syracuse recruited him heavily, but Belton was declared academically ineligible because of his SAT scores.

Belton had to spend two years in a Junior college before he could jump to a Division-I school. To add further hardship, Thump tore his ACL this first year at community college, thus ending his first college football season. In the end, it may have been the best thing that could have happened to him. With no football distractions, Belton concentrated on his academics and it paid off. He took 23 credits during three semesters and graduated half a year early.

In January 2001, he transferred to Syracuse where he saw action in every game his first season and rushed for 57 yards on nine attempts. In all Belton totaled 327 yards on 61 carries (5.3 avg) during his years at Syracuse.

After college Belton was picked up as an undrafted free agent by Detroit where he spent 2004 on the practice squad. When Chicago offered him a roster spot, he dashed North in a heartbeat. However, in Sept. of last year, after another year on another practice squad, Chicago cut him loose. With no teams interested, Belton went home to North Carolina and spent the end of last year teaching and coaching at a local High School.

In December last year, the Broncos called and offered him a chance to come into camp to compete for a roster spot. And so, with little fanfare, Thump Belton entered the mile high city and began working with Rich Tuten in Denver’s off-season conditioning program. Preparing himself, as best he can, for the coming fight for a place on the Broncos roster.

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Fan In Exile, has learned much about the player he picked for his nickname in March. So, what’s impressed him most about his Movement’s star?

“First that he said his experience brought him back to his faith. I’m a pastor as well as a Broncos fan so I look at this and think it’s great that he’s looking after his spiritual well being first. Next, it’s impressive that he took full responsibility for why he wasn’t with Detroit and Chicago anymore, I think that’s the sign of a quality person. Next it’s impressive that his job was substitute teaching at a High School and coaching high school football. I think this shows he isn’t just looking for a high paying job, but thinks about others, and loves football, which I find pretty cool.”

— Fan In Exile 6/21/07

And what if the ‘Fullback with a Fullback’s name’ makes the team?

“I think that depends on where he is on the depth chart. If he’s a back-up I could celebrate with a Start Thump Belton movement. If he’s the starter maybe a Give Thump the Ball movement. “

— Fan In Exile 6/21/07

Line Break

Whatever happens, I agree with my exiled friend. Thump Belton is more than just ‘camp fodder’ or ‘filler’. Like every other unknown player, he has a story. He has beliefs and passion. He has the desire to play football and is willing to work toward that dream. Few people will lay aside their stable jobs and move away from their families to follow their dreams, but many NFL players do that every year.

It seems to me that many members of the media (and some fans) seem to occasionally cross the line between speculating and mockery. Between analyzing and cruelty.

I would challenge fans of the Broncos to be more like Fan In Exile. Whether you join the Free Thump Belton Movement, or choose another of our newest and most unknown players, I would encourage you to pick a favorite. Learn about them. Cheer for them. Talk to other fans about them. Make it personal. To me, that’s what it’s all about.

I, myself, am pulling for Andre Hall and a handful of others… however, I would like to think I have an honorary membership in the Free Thump Belton Movement. 🙂

Free Thump Belton Movement

Getting to Know Thump Belton at Denverboncos.com: FULL STORY

Andrew Mason’s Bonus Blog on Thump: FULL POST

Syracuse’s Daily Orange newspaper article from 9/20/02: FULL ARTICLE

P.S. If you haven’t seen Animal House, please do yourself a favor and rent it.




  1. Nice post – hadn’t heart about Thump, but it’s all pretty funny stuff.

    I’m a huge Kyle Johnson fan myself, so Thump might not be the guy I cheer for… but I like what Domenik Hixon, our injured 4th-round pick from last year, brings to the table, and he’s “my guy.” I also loved Eslinger, but now he’s “popular” and well-known, and we can’t have that, can we? haha

  2. I appreciate the support

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