Derrick Thomas: 3 Days to Canton

Posted Aug 6, 2009


The primary mission of the Derrick Thomas/Neil Smith Third and Long Foundation is to support and improve reading and learning abilities of disadvantaged school children in Kansas City, Missouri and its surrounding areas. The Foundation strives to change the lives of 9-13 year old urban children facing challenging and even life-threatening situations. For more information, please visit:


Honestly speaking, I cannot express the love I feel for Derrick Thomas and the 3rd and Long Foundation. I do know, as an alumni member of the foundation, I never met a group of people who really cared about the impact that they had on lives of children before. I will never forget the good times that we had and the frightening on-the-spot speeches Derrick and Neil had me give. I still laugh at those times the most. I must say, that if I never became a member of the 3rd and Long Foundation, I never would have met Derrick or Neil, I never would have given those on-the-spot speeches, and I would not know the type of person I would’ve become. If it weren’t for the speeches, I would not be the outspoken young woman that I am today. Not only that, I don’t believe I would have completed furthering my education, if it wasn’t for the bond that I had with Derrick. Derrick taught me what it means to uphold my word to someone, but most importantly, he taught me how to dream BIG, and for this, I am eternally grateful. There will always be a special place in my heart for Derrick, Neil, and the 3rd and Long Foundation.
- Akilah Johnson, 3rd and Long Foundation Alumni




September 3, 2002    
The Derrick Thomas Academy (DTA), a tuition-free, public charter school, opens for its first official day of school. Located at 201 East Armour Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, DTA is the first ever kindergarten through eighth grade public charter school named in honor of an NFL player.



The late LB Derrick Thomas was a stalwart member of the Kansas City Chiefs on and off the field for the final 11 years of his life. Thomas was the fourth overall selection in the ‘89 NFL Draft out of the University of Alabama. A nine-time Pro Bowl selection, Thomas registered a franchise-record 126.5 career sacks. The Miami, Florida native 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 ranks sixth in team history with 728 career tackles (558 solo) and also contributed 34 passes defense, 444 QB pressures and one INT. In recognition of his stellar NFL career, Thomas will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with the rest of this year’s enshrinement class on August 8, in Canton, OH.

Still, as vast as Thomas’ legacy was on the field, he also left an indelible mark in the Kansas City Community. Since he formed the Third and Long Foundation in 1990, more than 60 Chiefs players have created individual player foundation and/or charitable programming. Through his foundation, he attacked illiteracy with the same ferocity that he sacked opposing quarterbacks. Among other community activities, he also spearheaded the Chiefs Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive and would personally deliver these holiday baskets to the needy. Former President George H.W. Bush named Thomas as the “832nd point of light” for all his charitable endeavors. Thomas was also recognized as the 1993 NFL Man of the Year and garnered the Byron “Whizzer” White Humanitarian Award in 1995.


Derrick Thomas Photo Gallery

Thomas establishes the NFL single-game sack record with 7.0 sacks vs. Seattle (11/11/90).