Thirteen years ago today, Kansas City and the National Football League was saddened with unfathomable news about one of the best players to ever put on a Chiefs uniform. Derrick Thomas, 33, died in a tragic car accident that shocked everyone around the world.
Thomas was a household name in Kansas City and recognized as a dangerous linebacker around the league. He was one of the most feared defenders in the league in the 1990's. Thomas became an impact player right away as he collected 30 sacks in his first two seasons with the Chiefs.
His 11-year career ended early, but he left a big footprint behind.
Thomas owns franchise records for career sacks (136.5), forced fumbles (41), fumble recoveries (19) and safeties (3). Despite losing to the Seattle Seahawks in this game, Thomas' most memorable game came early in his career when he sacked Dave Krieg seven times in one game, which is the record for most in a game in NFL history.
In 1993, Thomas was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his contributions on and off the field. The Kansas City Chiefs team MVP award is named after Thomas, known as the Derrick Thomas Award.
Early in his career, Thomas founded the Derrick Thomas Third and Long Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to “sack illiteracy” and help young kids who deal with life-threatening situations in the Kansas City area. The foundation participates in helping children succeed in school.
In 2009, Thomas finally earned his long overdue Pro Football Hall of Fame induction as the Chiefs officially retired his jersey number, 58.
Thomas was a rare football player. His effect on and off the field enthused many young football players to follow him. Although his death came in 13 years ago, his name and legacy has lived on throughout the past 13 years in Kansas City and around the league.