Almost a decade since the last time Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas stepped on the field for the Kansas City Chiefs, his spirit will undoubtedly be in attendance at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Thomas, whose number 58 will be retired by the Chiefs on Sunday, sacked Broncos' quarterback John Elway more than any other quarterback during his 11-year career in Kansas City. Against no other opponent would it be more appropriate for the Chiefs to retire Thomas' number.
During his career, Thomas registered 126.5 quarterback sacks, the fourth-highest amount in NFL history by a linebacker, including the most sacks in the 1990's with 116.5.
On Sunday, the 3-8 Chiefs will entertain a Broncos team that is fighting to stay in the playoff race, losing four of their last five after starting out 6-0, and who is struggling to move the ball offensively. The question for the Chiefs is whether someone will be able to channel the energy from the fans, that will undoubtedly be present with the retirement of Thomas' number at halftime, to turn in a performance that will lead the Chiefs to victory.
When Thomas played, he would raise his hands to encourage the Arrowhead faithful to be as loud as they could. He and his teammates would then, more times than not, rise to the occasion to force a turnover or three-and-out by the opposing offense. That type of presence is something the current Chiefs defense is in dire need of.
On Sunday, a great Chiefs player will be remembered one last time. It will serve as a prime opportunity to see if a current young Chiefs player could seize this opportunity to take his play to a level anywhere near that of Thomas. If someone can, the Chiefs have an opportunity to deliver one more blow to Denver's playoff hopes, and provide Chiefs' fans with some hope heading towards 2010.