Alabama Football: Why Derrick Thomas Should Be a Lock for College Hall of Fame
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With a history of excellence on the defensive side of the ball, the University of Alabama is well represented by former stars that have been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Names like Cornelius Bennett and Lee Roy Jordan amongst others have been enshrined, but an inexplicable travesty took place last year when a legendary former Crimson Tide star—the late Derrick Thomas—was left off the ballot.
Thomas is on the list for the second consecutive year—and the committee has a second chance to atone for its head-scratching omission.
Thomas’ career at Alabama bolsters a resume that should have cemented his entry into the exclusive club quicker than his burst off the edge that left opposing linemen in the dust.
His 27 sacks accumulated during his senior season in 1988 still stands as an NCAA single season record, and helped him win the Butkus Award as college football’s most dominant linebacker.
Thomas even finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy balloting that season.
The NFL selected Thomas for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009 after a stellar career that ended tragically too soon. Thomas died on Feb. 8, 2000 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
His pro accomplishments are just as sterling—he finished his pro career with 126.5 sacks, reached nine Pro Bowls and set Chiefs franchise records in sacks, safeties, fumble recoveries and forced fumbles.
His influence on the game is still present today—especially when you look at dominant edge rushers like DeMarcus Ware, Clay Matthews, and more recently, Von Miller.
"Coach (Joe) Kines coached Derrick Thomas back when he was in college and he told me that I played in a similar fashion to him (Thomas)," Miller told me during the week of practice at the 2011 Senior Bowl. "That day I went and got film on him (Thomas) and I watched and studied his film and watched his interviews.
"The point of view he had on the game is similar to the way I feel. I can never be like Derrick Thomas or play like him, but he played with a relentless effort and what I try to do is play with that same attitude."
While Miller has an appreciation for Thomas’s brilliant career, it is clear that that the 12,000 National Football Foundation members who received ballots last year overlooked his body of work.
It is also apparent that Thomas is more than deserving of this prestigious honor, and earning it would put a bow on the legacy of one the most dominant players to ever suit up for the Crimson Tide.
These factors should lead to Thomas being the 20th former Tide player selected into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Sanjay Kirpalani is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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