50 Years of Chiefs History: Derrick Thomas

Posted Aug 7, 2009

dthofAUGUST 3 – 9

LB Derrick Thomas was one of the most feared linebackers of his era. Fittingly, he will receive the ultimate honor when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 8th. He will be joined by WR Bob Hayes, G Randall McDaniel, DE Bruce Smith, CB/S Rod Woodson and Buffalo Bill Founder Ralph Wilson as a member of the Class of 2009. Thomas becomes the 10th member of the Chiefs to be enshrined in Canton. He joins fellow Chiefs linebackers Bobby Bell (Class of ‘82) and Willie Lanier (Class of ‘86) in Canton.

Thomas was the Chiefs first-round selection (fourth overall) in the ‘89 NFL Draft out of the University of Alabama. A nine-time Pro Bowl selection, Thomas holds Kansas City’s franchise record and ranks 11th in NFL history with 126.5 career sacks. A native of Miami, Florida, Thomas also holds Chiefs records for career safeties (3), forced fumbles (45) and fumble recoveries (19). Only two players in NFL history own more safeties or fumble return TDs (4) than Thomas. He is also sixth in team history with 728 career tackles. Thomas recorded an NFL single-game record 7.0 sacks vs. Seattle (11/11/90). During the ‘90s, no other NFL player recorded more sacks than Thomas’ total of 116.5, including a franchise-record 20.0 sacks for the Chiefs in ‘90.

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s NFL All-Decade Team of the ‘90s, Thomas was the cornerstone around whom the Chiefs franchise was rebuilt under Peterson. During the ‘90s, the Chiefs constructed a 102-58 regular season record and led the NFL in turnover differential ( 128). In the 17 seasons prior to Thomas’ arrival in Kansas City, the franchise made just one playoff appearance and enjoyed just four winning seasons. During Thomas’ 11 seasons with the Chiefs from ‘89-99, the team earned seven playoff berths, won three AFC West titles and recorded 10 winning seasons.

Truly one of the most dominant players of his era, Thomas produced 27 multi-sack games during his NFL tenure. From ‘92-99, the Chiefs were an astounding 16-1 when Thomas registered 2.0 or more sacks. He was also the key figure in Kansas City’s record-setting ‘95 defensive unit that ranked in the NFL’s top five in scoring defense (1st), total defense (2nd), rushing defense (3rd) and pass defense (5th) as the Chiefs posted a 13-3 regular season record for the first time in team history.

A stalwart in the Kansas City community, Thomas was named the ‘93 NFL Man of the Year for his philanthropic efforts. Thomas’ “Third and Long Foundation” is still active in the Kansas City community, continuing the reading and scholarship programs he began. In June of 2001, the Derrick Thomas Academy, a tuition-free public charter school was launched in Kansas City. The academy is the first-ever public elementary school named after an NFL hero.

Thomas was posthumously inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2001. He died in his hometown of Miami, Florida on February 8, 2000 after suffering a serious auto accident in Kansas City, Missouri on January 23, 2000.