Derrick Thomas is widely regarded as one of the greatest pass-rushers of all time. The former first-round pick was drafted with the fourth pick in the 1989 draft out of Alabama to the Kansas City Chiefs. Thomas immediately made a name for himself in the league, winning the NFL Defensive Rookie of The Year award.
Derrick Thomas completed his crowing achievement on November 11th,1990, during a week 10 matchup vs. the Seattle Seahawks. The Chiefs needed a win to stay alive in the postseason race 32 years ago this week, and Thomas collected not one, not two, but seven sacks on the day.
The bad news is the Chiefs lost 17-16 on a last-second play that Thomas missed his eighth sack on David Krieg that led to a 25-yard touchdown pass. The seven sacks Derrick Thomas recorded that day are an NFL game record. Thomas bagged Kreig twice in the first quarter, once in the third, and four times in the fourth quarter. He also had a strip sack in the third quarter that was recovered in the endzone for a touchdown and gave Kansas City a six-point lead. That was the first touchdown the Chiefs scored in three weeks.
More Derrick Thomas Accolades:
After his seven-sack performance, Thomas continued his dominance in 1990, finishing with 20.0 sacks and leading the league. Thomas was elected to the pro bowl nine times from 1989-1997. Derrick Thomas made the All-Rookie team; he also had three first and second-team All-Pro selections each from 1990-1992 and 1993,1994,1996.
Derrick Thomas led the league twice in forced fumbles (1990, 1992). As well as being inducted into the Kansas City Chiefs Hall Of Fame, Thomas was elected to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 2009. Derrick Thomas had 116.5 sacks in the 90s, which was more than any other player during the decade. Those 116.5 sacks earned him a selection to the 1990s All-Decade team.
During Thomas’ career, he was awarded the NFL Man of The Year award in 1993 for his diligent work in the community. His impact on the field was incredible, as seen in the seven-sack game.
Derrick Thomas played 11 seasons in the NFL before his untimely death in February 2000. In that timeframe, Thomas compiled 126.5 sacks and had seven seasons of 10 sacks or more. Thomas forced 41 fumbles, recovered 19, and had four career touchdowns. In 1997, Derrick Thomas played just 12 games and finished the season with 9.5 sacks. With four games missed, who knows how many sacks he could’ve had. His 126.5 sacks rank in the top 25 all-time.
On January 23rd, 2000, Derrick Thomas was on his way to Kansas City international airport to catch a flight to St.Louis to watch the Rams host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game. With snow and ice continuing to mount on the road, Thomas exceeded 70 MPH and crashed his car. Thomas and another passenger were not wearing seat belts, and the other passenger Michael Tellis died on impact. They were both thrown from the vehicle, but the third passenger, who wore a seat belt, walked away uninjured.
After the crash, Thomas was paralyzed from the chest down. Derrick Thomas died on the morning of February 8th, 2000, from a pulmonary embolism after a blood clot in his legs formed and traveled to his lungs. His talent at the linebacker position put him above almost everyone in his era. A career cut short, but a career that was one of the best fans has ever seen.
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