Legendary Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson said Monday that had it not been for the persistence of a Fox Sports television producer, he would have died on 9/11 aboard American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.
Thompson recounted the story Monday, one day after the 10th anniversary of the attacks, in an interview on Jim Rome’s radio show.
The 70-year-old, national championship-winning coach was supposed to fly to Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2001 for an in-studio interview on Rome’s former Fox Sports Net TV show.
Thompson recalled that he was also scheduled to be in Las Vegas for a friend’s birthday on Sept. 13, 2001. He said he had been adamant with Rome’s producer, Danny Swartz, that he wanted to fly in on the 11th so he could leave for Vegas on the 12th.
When the schedules did not line up for the interview to take place on the 11th, Swartz insisted that Thompson change his flight to the 12th, promising him that he would make arrangements to ensure Thompson could go right to Vegas after the interview.
"If he had not been persistent with me, I would have insisted that I get on that plane on the 11th," Thompson said.
On Rome’s show Monday, Thompson spoke to Swartz for the first time since their conversation before 9/11. Thompson admitted he was not easy to deal with at the time and credited Swartz for his patience.
"Let me tell you something, if you’re ever in DC, you look me up," Thompson said to Swartz. "I was antagonistic in those days, and how you handled it saved my life. And I appreciate that."
Thompson said he was told by his assistant while watching coverage of the attacks that Flight 77 was the one he was supposed to take to Los Angeles.
"She said, ‘Look at your itinerary, you were supposed to go on that plane … if that kid hadn’t have talked you out of it, you would been on that plane,’" said Thompson, adding that for the past decade he did not know the name of the man who ended up saving his life.