Throwback Thursday: Derrick Thomas

 22 replies

Whelp. Derek was nice while he lasted, but another one bites the dust. Since I’m getting to pick this back up on late notice, I’m not even messing around. I’m going straight to the Holy Grail: DT58

Derrick Thomas 1967-2000

Derrick Thomas would have been 52 right now had he not passed from a tragic accident. That seems hard to believe, he remains young in all of our minds’ eye. His first year with the Chiefs was 1989, when I was eight years old, and he played 10 seasons before the wreck happened, my senior year of high school.

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I was raised in a house with three generation of women in it, and me. Once you get all your “well that explains some things” jokes out of the way, I’ll continue by saying I mention that because I didn’t grow up like many of you, in a house that had the TV tuned to the Chiefs game every Sunday. It probably wasn’t until the early-90’s that I even discovered football…clicking back and forth through the 4 or 5 channels we got through the rabbit ears on Sundays after getting home from church to find it was about the only thing on. So I sat there and watched football by myself. And more often that not, it was the Chiefs playing. Sure, I realized they were the local team, but I didn’t realize I was supposed to root for them because no one had told me how this all worked; this, being a fan, thing.

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I don’t remember a lot of players from the 90’s. I remember Joe. I remember Marcus. I remember Dan, and always wondering how he fit his face in that helmet. But most of all, I remember Derrick Thomas. He made everyone else on the field look human. Every snap he just jumped off the screen at you with his speed an athleticism. He was magic to a young Tony who didn’t know anything about the game. I could always tell he was better than the other players, but not knowing the rules of the game I never was able to appreciate the context of what he was doing. I don’t remember any of his big games or special moments. Though I may have watched them, they never stood out because I didn’t know they were special. I just knew he was. So my memories of watching Derrick play are just a series of pass rush after pass rush, with him defying gravity with that bend around the corner. Its one of my longest regrets during my period of watching the Chiefs; that I didn’t get to watch more of him, remember more of him, or know what he meant to the game at the time I was watching.

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One of my favorite questions to ask people who aren’t from KC and never have been here is why they became Chiefs fans. Its because 9/10 times I know the answer. Derrick Thomas.

If you by chance missed how Derrick passed away, the New York Post wrote a short piece on him linked below.
https://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/09/sports/pro-football-chiefs-thomas-dies-unexpectedly-during-hospital-stay.html

Share your favorite Derrick Thomas story.

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BleedingRedAndGold
03/22/2019 4:05 am

I fell for the Chiefs around when you did, the difference is that he was born one numerical year after me. Growing up in MN, I loved my Vikings, but none moreso than the Purple People Eaters, the terror of the NFL while they held it together. That was a legendary D. Small wonder, then, that when I finally discovered the Chiefs it was almost like a homecoming for me. The Vikings had abandoned the monster defenses of the past, and as became obvious with the Walker trade, completely abandoned their sanity, as well.

But instead of staying away, I discovered there was a place where they still played great defense, and that was at Arrowhead. Derrick Thomas was an essential element in that, fundamental to my being here now in more ways than one. If that doesn’t tell you where he stands in my regards, I don’t know what else will.

Tlback20
Tlback20
03/21/2019 10:04 pm

I remember going to the game where he set the record for most sacks in a game. First ticket I ever bought with my own money as a kid. Paid $18 for a nose bleed ticket. I wish to this day I had kept that ticket stub but I was 9 and didn’t realize the significance of that game until later in life. Also got to see him when I went to the Neil Smith football camp at Rockhurst College. One of the many reasons I’m a Chiefs fan…

Rogue Chief
Rogue Chief
03/21/2019 9:38 pm

I was born and raised in Northern California in Raider and 49er country and became a Chief fan at around 10 years old (1992). Though not because it was anyone in my family’s favorite team or that our family heritage can be traced to Kansas City, I became a Chief fan cause of DT and rocking Arrowhead Stadium. DT, Forever a Chief, my all time favorite player and the reason I became a Chief fan.

gonzangkc11
gonzangkc11
03/21/2019 9:28 pm

Still have my signed football from D. THOMAS & N. SMITH- in a case.

Also wear my #58 Jersey when chiefs play here in. Denver
The REAL #58!!

Gannr
Gannr
03/21/2019 4:08 pm

Not from kc, never been. If you ask me why I’m a chiefs fan it’s because of dante hall, lol.

Too young for derrick’s reign.

MasterChief
MasterChief
03/21/2019 1:53 pm

I’ve told this story here and another place, but I’ll tell it again!

I was skateboarding downtown with some friends and we started seeing celebrities and NFL players walking by. We ended up following them to what was a celebrity charity basketball game. Some executive saw us sitting outside watching all the stars walk by and offered us tickets. Got to see all these guys playing basketball. The notable names I remember: Kid from Kid and Play, Barry Sanders (who did a 360 dunk!), DT, Neil Smith, Lincoln Kennedy (who almost broke my skateboard just by standing on it) and a few others.

A while after the game, we went back to skating. DT walked by and I got him to autograph my shirt (the last of many that day). He was all sweaty and tired and still had a great attitude and stood and talked to us for a few minutes. He was, by far, the nicest celebrity we talked to. I’ll never forget that!

Sick Duck
Sick Duck
03/21/2019 1:17 pm

DT is the only Chief (and I’ve loved many) who’s jersey I have. He was not only a great player, but a great damned human being. My old sig line on Another Place was a quote of Sudden who said that the two greatest men to ever live, died at 33 years old. Jesus and Derrick Thomas. I couldn’t agree more. Derrick, may you rest in power, brother!

MidKan Chiefs Lifer
MidKan Chiefs Lifer
03/21/2019 12:56 pm

Derrick Thomas is still my favorite Chief he turned me into a chiefs fan for life. Played the game with intensity and always seemed to have a big smile.

Chris Jones just so happens to be a favorite of mine notice any similarities?

MidKan Chiefs Lifer
MidKan Chiefs Lifer
03/21/2019 12:54 pm

We must be roughly the same age. It was my senior year when he died and I turned 8 during his rookie year.

tecmo_sb35
tecmo_sb35
Reply to  Anthony Stratton
03/21/2019 6:31 pm

Class of 2000 here.
Grew up on Martyball and summer Fan Day in River Falls.

Leaf
03/21/2019 11:49 am

DT is the reason I love the chiefs as much as I do. We’ve had some great pass rushers over the years, but none could change a game on a dime the way DT did.

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KCChef
KCChef
Reply to  Leaf
03/21/2019 8:10 pm

Man … That Never Gets Old … : )

( Now Show Me Dante Hall’s Return VS Denver ! … ; )

Mitko
03/21/2019 10:45 am

DT was such a great human being as well. When I was a kid, I went to a Christmas event held by the Chiefs. I brought my Chiefs football to get signed by all of the greats. DT was late like always, but was adamant about getting to play Santa Claus. His smile brightened up the whole room. Unfortunately the line was long, and I didn’t get to meet him and have him sign my ball before he was rushed off. He wanted to stay and see all the kids, but they wouldn’t let him. One of the staff saw this and offered the take my football to him to get sign. I received it a few days later with a note stating that Mr. Thomas had signed the ball twice. One ended up on the seam and he didn’t think it was good enough, so he signed it again.

smitty
smitty
03/21/2019 9:49 am

So many memories… 7 sacks in a game against Seattle, Six in a game against Oakland. All of the forced fumbles. He defines Chiefs football.

Nasrani
Nasrani
03/21/2019 8:08 am

I remember Derrick Thomas. Used to use him exclusively on Tecmo Super Bowl’s 1993 iteration. He could almost never be blocked on there, sort of like real life.

That’s back when we could play defense. I wonder if this transition (back) to a 4-3 will help in that regard, since our 90s defenses were always 4-3 lineups…

CHIEFSandSABRES
CHIEFSandSABRES
03/21/2019 7:54 am

My first born sons named is spelled Derrick, just like DT. Was my all time favorite Chief.

Mitko
Reply to  Anthony Stratton
03/21/2019 8:59 am

You named your children Butterfly and Walrus?

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