Alabama Football: Former LB Derrick Thomas Should Be in the CFB Hall of Fame

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2013

Derrick Thomas. Allen Steele/Getty Images
Derrick Thomas. Allen Steele/Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide have been historically known for having some of the best defenses in college football. Back in the late 1980s, linebacker Derrick Thomas was the star in Tuscaloosa. 

From 1985-88, Thomas was one of the most dominant defensive players in all of college football. When he left Alabama for the 1989 NFL draft, where he was selected fourth overall by the Kansas City Chiefs, he had racked up 52 career sacks, including 27 his senior season. Both of those marks are still NCAA records. 

Twenty-seven sacks in one season. Think about that. The NCAA didn't officially record sacks until 2000. Since then, Terrell Suggs has the most single-season and career sacks with 24 and 44 respectively. Neither of those numbers come that close to Thomas' marks. 

Thomas was also the 1988 Dick Butkus Award winner as well as a unanimous All-American. 

And he's not in the College Football Hall of Fame

Rob Gill, the co-producer of A Football Life: Derrick Thomas, which debuted on Tuesday on the NFL Network, said in a report by Duane Rankin of the Montgomery Advertiser that he couldn't hardly believe Thomas wasn't in the CFB Hall of Fame. 

“That seems like a glaring omission,” Gill said. “Twenty-seven sacks? If that was the only thing he ever did on the football field. You would think that would merit serious consideration.”

It's no secret that Thomas was one of the best linebackers in NFL history. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, he ranks 12th all-time in sacks with 126.5 despite playing fewer seasons than all but one player in the top 20 of that same list. He also holds the single-game record for sacks with seven. 

Thomas was also the 1989 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, the 1993 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and a 2009 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame prior to his death in 2000 from a pulmonary embolism just 17 days after a car crash that left him paralyzed. 

With Thomas' accomplishments professionally being so vast, that could be a reason why his college career has been overlooked. 

Derrick Thomas' son Derion Thomas (left) and former Chiefs GM Carl Peterson (right)
Derrick Thomas' son Derion Thomas (left) and former Chiefs GM Carl Peterson (right)Joe Robbins/Getty Images

But for D.T. to be overlooked by the voting members of the College Football Hall of Fame is just wrong at this point. 

Thomas was most recently denied by the hall for the third straight year this past May. 

But on Tuesday, with the airing of the NFL Network's documentary on Thomas, his name began making rounds. "Derrick Thomas" trended nationally on Twitter as highlight reels and interviews about one of the SEC's greatest linebackers of all time played. 

One of the hottest topics of discussion on Twitter about Thomas was his lack of induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. The case for him seems to be worthy of entry, without a doubt. 

Let's put some of Thomas' career numbers into perspective. 

Thomas' 27 sacks his senior season were just one-half less than what Jadeveon Clowney and Jarvis Jones had combined last season. 

It's almost unimaginable to think that both Jones and Clowney won't someday enter the CFB Hall of Fame. And Thomas nearly outdid them both in one season. 

Thomas also holds Alabama school records for blocked kicks in a career (5), tackles for loss in a career (68) and forced fumbles in a career (10). 

Ultimately, Thomas was one of the best linebackers that not just Alabama or the SEC, but all of college football has ever witnessed. The NFL Network put his career on display with its documentary on Tuesday night, which showed that for over a decade he did nothing but strike fear in the hearts of quarterbacks. 

It's time to put him in the College Football Hall of Fame.