13 years ago today on February 8th, 2000 the Kansas City Chiefs lost a member of their family when Derrick Thomas passed in the hospital after a car accident. I remember standing at my High School locker when a couple of my friends came up and asked me if I heard the news about Derrick Thomas. They then told me that Derrick has passed away and I was in utter shock not able to comprehend what they had just said. I was unable to concentrate the rest of the school day as I pondered how this larger than life figure I had grown up watching could suddenly be gone. A man who did so much to give back to this community and a man who terrorized quarterbacks every Sunday during the season was now gone while we were left asking why?
Derrick Thomas had so many great moments it’s hard to pick just one as a favorite. I’ll always remember the game against San Diego where he got his first interception and nobody could believe that he hadn’t had one before. The announcers were asking if that was really his first interception and the coaches on the sidelines were jumping up and down with elation for Derrick. He still holds the record for most sacks in one game against the Seattle Seahawks with 7 sacks versus them that day. I think everyone remembers Derrick getting safeties versus Jeff George and Steve Young then popping up and giving the fans the safety sign. Derrick was famous for his timing of getting off the ball quicker than anyone, turning the corner, and tomahawk chopping down on the ball in the quarterback’s hands to cause a fumble. These are just a few of my favorite memories of Derrick Thomas on the playing field that I will never forget.
When Derrick arrived in Kansas City he founded the Derrick Thomas Third and Long Foundation where he wanted to ‘sack illiteracy’ and even change the lives of children in Kansas City who were facing tough circumstances. In September of 2002 The Derrick Thomas Academy was opened which is a charter school in Kansas City, Missouri. On August 8th, 2009 Derrick Thomas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Chiefs announced they’d retire his #58 jersey number that season as well. The Chiefs have also named their player of the year award in Thomas’ honor calling it The Derrick Thomas award. Derrick’s legacy will live on and be forever felt through his Third and Long foundation, Derrick Thomas charter school, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and all the fans that keep his memory alive.
Since Derrick Thomas passed away the Kansas City Chiefs have not been the same. It feels like the Sea of Red that once was Arrowhead Stadium died with Derrick Thomas that day and we’re still searching for a way to bring those glory days back once again. We haven’t had the talent nor near the amount of passion displayed on the field by Derrick Thomas in the years since his passing. I think as an organization and as a fan base we’ve been lost and are trying to find our way back to the winning ways and dominant defense we once had with one of the best Kansas City Chiefs to ever put on that uniform, Derrick Thomas. You will always be missed, but never forgotten. R.I.P. Derrick.