#3 – Derrick Thomas, Outside Linebacker/Defensive End – Class of 2009
I am acutely aware that placing Derrick Thomas, affectionately referred to as “DT” in Chiefs Kingdom, anywhere but number one on this list will set the social media-sphere ablaze with controversy. Every time I’ve written about him and not placed him at the very top of a list I have received such a response, but still I soldier on with my unpopular take.
Derrick Thomas was a force from the time he was a young man, absolutely tearing up the collegiate gridiron at Alabama. He unofficially registered 27 sacks in his senior season, a mark that would make him the all-time record holder had they been collecting sack statistics during his time in Tuscaloosa.
Thomas continued his dominance after being drafted by the Chiefs in the 1989 NFL Draft. His rookie season he was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year with an impressive 10 sacks in his debut season. He followed that up with a franchise record setting season in 1990 with 20 sacks, a mark that would stand until 2015, including an NFL record seven sack performance in week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Thomas was a regular at both the NFL Pro Bowl making nine straight to begin his career. He was also no stranger to the Associated Press, as they voted him First Team All Pro twice and Second Team All Pro three times.
He finished the 1990s as the league’s greatest sack artist, amassing the most for the decade at 116.5. He still maintains his spot atop the sack leaderboard for the Chiefs with 126.5 to his name, placing him at 17 all time in the NFL.
Derrick Thomas was an incredible force. Was he the best to ever play his position or did he produce incredible numbers as part of a championship team? I’d argue the answer to the first question is “possibly but probably not,” and the answer to the second is obviously “no.” Those two reasons are why the two following players finished ahead of him.
“To me, a sack could be described as a play with a plot. You have ups and downs, and then all of a sudden, it’s drawing to the conclusion, everybody is in suspense, it’s building, and building, and boom, you have a hero.” – Derrick Thomas