Today we give a salute to one of the greatest defensive players to ever step on a football field, Derrick Thomas.
On this date in 2000 Derrick Thomas lost his life after a serious car accident two weeks prior. Thomas was driving two friends in snowy conditions and slid off the road on January 23, 2000. Officials at the time say he was speeding, however no charges were filed. One of the passengers died instantly and the other survived with minor injuries. Thomas was paralyzed from the chest down. He died on February 8th at 33 years old.
Thomas the player may be gone but his legacy will never be forgotten. Thomas is without a doubt the best defensive player in Kansas City Chiefs history. During his 11 year career he recorded 126.5 career sacks. That ranks 12th on the all time list and is very impressive considering he could play both linebacker and defensive end. In 1990 he led the NFL with 20 sacks nearly breaking single season the record.
Thomas had two of the most memorable games by a defender in the 90’s. On November 11th 1990, he sacked Seattle Seahawks quarterback Dave Kreig an unprecedented seven times. That is still an NFL record to this day. In one the most famous games at Arrowhead stadium Thomas made his presence known yet again. It was opening day against their bitter rival Oakland Raiders on Sunday Night Football. Thomas sacked Jeff George six times and recorded a safety on route to a 28-6 victory.
Thomas has the two highest sack totals in a game ever and the most sacks of the 90s.
Holding virtually every Chiefs franchise record imaginable for a linebacker he has been commemorated. The Chiefs retired number 58 in his honor and in 2001 he was selected to the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame. His legacy has also been recognized from a national standpoint as well. In 2009 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the highest honor a player can receive.
But he was more than a player. He won the Walter Payton Man of the year award for his contributions and volunteer work off the field. He is also well known for starting the Third and Long Foundation to help struggling youths with education. His former head coach Marty Schottenheimer spoke very highly of his character before drafting Thomas No. four overall in 1989.
“In the time I’ve been in this business, there have been three defensive players that can change the course of a game. Lawrence Taylor, Bruce Smith, and Derrick.”
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