Hard to believe it’s been 17 Years. On February 8th, 2000 the Kansas City Chiefs, the community of Kansas City, and really the world lost the great Derrick Thomas. Thomas had been severely injured in a car accident on January 23rd, 1999 while on his way to the airport to attend the NFC Championship game in Saint Louis. His injuries had left him paralyzed, but he was starting to progress very well in his physical therapy. On the morning of Feb. 8th, he was being transferred from his bed to begin his daily therapy when the cardiac event occurred and he passed away. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, and as a lifelong Chiefs fan who grew up in the 90s, I made the trip to Canton, Ohio for his enshrinement. I was only 13 years old when I learned he had passed away, but I was devastated. As were so many in the Chiefs Kingdom. On this 17th anniversary of losing DT, let’s look back on who he was.
DT was drafted by the Chiefs with the 4th overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft and immediately began to make an impact winning Defensive Rookie of the Year for 1989. Thomas’ father was a military veteran who was lost in combat, and he always had a special place in his heart for the military. On Veteran’s Day 1990, DT would set a NFL record which still stands today as he sacked Seattle QB Dave Krieg 7 times in a single game. In 1993 Derrick was named the NFL Man of the Year for his work off the field with local kids in Kansas City. He and teammate Neil Smith co-founded the 3rd and Long Foundation to help underprivileged and at risk youth in the community. Over the course of a career that was cut all too short, Thomas amassed 126.5 sacks, he forced 19 fumbles, he scored 4 TDs, and he touched the lives of countless people. After 5 years of being a finalist and missing out, finally, in 2009 the Pro Football Hall of Fame got it right, and put him in as part of that class. Thomas will always be remembered and revered by the Chiefs Kingdom, and on this February 8th, I just wanted to pause to remember the great DT.