During the beginning months of the 2010 off-season, three major additions were made to the Chiefs coaching staff. Two were somewhat predictable and/or expected, while the third was a surprise. However, the early results from that surprising hire have been widely predictable.
The return of Pro Football Hall of Fame CB Emmitt Thomas to Kansas City just keeps generating buzz and his impact has been immediate. Even the newest of team members are completely aware of the presence that Thomas creates.
“I can ask him all types of questions; he is a Hall of Famer,” first round draft pick
This is the type of thing that head coach Todd Haley has to enjoy hearing. Really, these types of reactions are exactly why he invited Thomas to come home to lead a very important position group laden with young, up-and-coming talent.
“Coach Thomas is someone that, myself, growing up in the NFL and being around football most of my life, is somebody that I really always looked up to and had a great amount of respect for,” Haley said. “Once I got into the coaching side of the NFL, you heard about Coach Thomas.
“He’s a guy that won a Super Bowl here playing, he’s coached for two more rings with the Washington Redskins and has been playing or coaching in the NFL for 42 years,” Haley continued. “He’s in the Hall of Fame. He’s a guy that again, I’ve paid attention to. When I’ve seen him in a room or at the Combine or at the Senior Bowl or on the opposing sideline, I’ve always looked at him with a great deal of respect.”
The respect which Haley holds for Thomas hasn’t been lost on a locker room where the majority of its tenets were yet to have been born by the time Thomas retired from playing the game in 1979. His connection with today’s stars – generally more than half the age of Thomas – is an incredible accomplishment for the Chiefs legend. But then again, the stories of true legends are never lost on anyone.
“When his name came up, Scott (Pioli) has a close relationship with (General Manager) Thomas Dimitroff in Atlanta and I know everybody there had nothing but terrific things to say about Coach (Thomas) and with our situation in the secondary, the more we visited with him – Coach Crennel and I actually visited with him at length along with a number of other guys – and just agreed that this was the guy for us,” Haley explained.
The fact that Thomas came available this winter was the surprising aspect of things. Unlike Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis, who both had rumors of their possible arrival in Kansas City swirling for weeks, Thomas exited Atlanta and arrived in Kansas City relatively quiet. His availability and quick addition to the Chiefs coaching staff were both pleasant surprises.
When he was dominating opposing quarterbacks, Thomas did so in an entirely different era of football. All things considered, his 58 career interceptions were an astronomical amount considering how different the NFL’s passing game was at the time. To put Thomas’ numbers into perspective, he recorded more interceptions than some of the most respected corners of the 1990’s/2000’s in Deion Sanders and Darrell Green.
When comparing Thomas directly to some of the best cover corners in his era of the game, he owns more career interceptions than both Mel Blount and Mike Haynes. He’s respected across the board, spanning through multiple generations of players.
“He was talking to us (Friday) at dinner, telling us that he has the most interceptions in Kansas City history,” Berry explained. “He was talking about that and saying how much the game has changed. I think a lot of the guys can relate to him in the secondary because he is just that type of guy. He is always smiling and always trying to teach us something new.”
If the league’s 30th ranked defense is set to improve in 2009, the big plays yielded by the secondary will have to decrease. A major part of that solution is acquiring talent both on the field and in the film room to get the job done.
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Tune in to The Red Zone with Soren Petro today at 3:00 PM to hear what another one of Thomas’ young students has to say – CB