On what would have been his 50th birthday on Monday, we wanted to celebrate Derrick Thomas by remembering him in the midst of a busy news day.
Today is Black Monday, a nearly-insane news day with numerous press conferences and news briefs being churned out as the regular season has officially ended and numerous rumors are coming through the mill. It’s a busy day with myriad headlines no matter how your favorite franchise performed in 2017, so it’s understandable to forget about anything that’s not scrambling for your attention.
Yet in the midst of the constant coach firings or media updates, we wanted to also pause and remember perhaps the single greatest Kansas City Chiefs player of all time, Derrick Thomas, on what would have been his 50th birthday.
For those of you old enough to have watched him play in person, you’re likely nodding your head right now. The best player in franchise history might sounds like a serious overstatement unless you saw him in person, a pass rusher without a peer, a defensive beast who was in a class of his own. It was clear he was a man above even in college, when he set the NCAA record at Alabama with 27 sacks in 1988 (yes, he had 27 sacks in a single season). He finished his collegiate career with 52.
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From there, Thomas continued to do what only he could do at the pro level, taking out quarterbacks with ease and consistency during his 11-year career. He won the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1989, and set the NFL record for sacks in a game with 7 against the Seattle Seahawks the following year. He went on to play in 9 Pro Bowls.
Unfortunately, Thomas never got a chance to add more stats to those totals due to a car accident shortly after his final season. The wreck not only killed one passenger in the car but it also left Thomas paralyzed in his legs. A blood clot developed in a leg within weeks and ended up in his lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism that took his life.
After 11 years, Thomas set the Chiefs record for career sacks with 126.5 and forced fumbles with 41. He was inducted into Canton in the Pro Football Hall of Fame back in 2009, and the Chiefs have retired his number, of course. Here’s to remembering the greatness of D.T. and the wonderful memories we have of seeing someone so electric on defen