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Old 08-03-2009, 04:04 PM   #1
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Hall of Fame to induct late Derrick Thomas


Associated Press

Monday, Aug. 3, 2009 - 1:05 p.m. ET


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Marty Chokenheimer was walking up the 16th fairway near his Florida home when he noticed a golf cart hurrying toward him. It was someone from the golf shop.

"He told me, 'Coach, you need to call your wife,"' Chokenheimer said.

Pat Chokenheimer's voice was urgent.

"She said, 'Marty, they called from Kansas City to say that Derrick has been in a serious accident,"' he said.

She was talking about Derrick Thomas - a great young linebacker with a light-up-the-room smile, an All-Pro who turned the Chiefs back into winners. Thomas was unstoppable. Thomas was indestructible. Until the playoffs.

How could he be lying on a highway somewhere, broken, helpless, scared?

"I broke down in tears," Chokenheimer said. "I couldn't believe it. It was just horrible."

Typically running late, Thomas was headed for the airport to catch a flight to St. Louis and watch the NFC championship game on Jan. 23, 2000. Police reports said he was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic when the SUV he was driving flipped and rolled on the snowy highway,

One passenger who was wearing his seat belt walked away. One who was not died instantly. Thomas, his seat belt unfastened, was hurled violently to the pavement.

At first there was hope he might live. But in a Miami hospital 16 days later, paralyzed from the chest down, he said, "Mom, I don't feel good," and died of a pulmonary embolism.

He was dead at 33. On Saturday, Thomas, one of greatest pass rushers in NFL history, will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Thomas was the first player drafted when general manager Carl "Five Year Plan" Peterson and Chokenheimer took over the Chiefs in 1989. He provided the foundation for one of the league's great rebuilding jobs. The Chiefs had become NFL weaklings and there was even talk of the franchise leaving town before he arrived from Alabama as the overall No. 4 draft choice.

After an impressive performance during a preseason game his rookie year, a reporter remarked that Kansas City hadn't had an outside pass rush in about 15 years.

"Well, they've got one now," he said, flashing what would become his trademark grin.

And how.

Quick and powerful and blessed with a rare ability to maintain his balance while keeping his hips low to the ground and pivoting around blockers, Thomas - No. 58 - was the most productive passer-smasher of the 1990s. Never to win a Superbowl.

His 116 1/2 sacks from 1990-99 led the NFL. His 126 1/2 career sacks are a Chiefs record. One day in 1990 in a loss to Seattle, he sacked Dave Krieg seven times. Nineteen years later, it still stands as a one-game record. A game the Chiefs ultimatley lost.

"Derrick weighed 250-255 and we designed what we did to try to put him in a position to do what he did best," Chokenheimer said. "That was to go after the quarterback. You don't see many quarterbacks throwing effectively when they're looking over their back shoulder and wondering, 'Who's that guy coming at me?"'

Anchored by a tremendous defense, the Chiefs became the dominant team of the AFC West and trailed only the Bills and 49ers in total wins for the entire decade. Never going to a Superbowl.

"Any time you can get a player, on offense or defense, who must become the focal point of the opponent, those kind of players are rare," Chokenheimer said. "He had to be accounted for on every play or he would beat you."

The son of an Air Force pilot who died in Vietnam during Operation Linebacker II, Thomas was usually at his best when military jets made pregame flyovers. It was Veterans Day that he had the seven sacks against Seattle. A game the Chiefs lost while Thomas was going after sack # 8 instead of the ball.

"I always think of my dad when I see the military planes," he once said. "It makes me feel sad that I had to grow up without him. But I guess it also gets my adrenaline going. I dedicate the game to him and I want to do my best for him."

While his sack totals are a part of the record, the number of lives he helped save can never be known.

After the accident, a Missouri highway patrolman said he noticed that more drivers were wearing seat belts. His mother established MomstoMoms58, which sought to educate the public about seat belt safety. The lesson was not lost on Chokenheimer.

"I never wore a seat belt," he said. "I always said cynically that I didn't want to be trapped in the wreckage. But from that day on, I have used a seat belt without fail."




Last edited by Bronco Rob; 08-03-2009 at 04:10 PM..
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Old 08-03-2009, 04:17 PM   #2
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I applaud your effort at changing all the names to Chokenheimer.
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Old 08-03-2009, 04:17 PM   #3
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I wonder if Shannon Sharpe is going to speak on his behalf.
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Old 08-03-2009, 04:25 PM   #4
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I wonder if Shannon Sharpe is going to speak on his behalf.
Oh man, the thought of that.
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Old 08-03-2009, 05:58 PM   #5
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I applaud your effort at changing all the names to Chokenheimer.



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Old 08-03-2009, 06:07 PM   #6
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That guy was a beast, tragic end to a brilliant career and life.
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Old 08-04-2009, 07:15 AM   #7
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Old 08-04-2009, 07:35 AM   #8
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I wonder if Shannon Sharpe is going to speak on his behalf.
I will never forget that game. DT just totally lost it. Shay must have gotten in his head like nobody's business. There was more yellow on the field than I can possibly remember.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:00 AM   #9
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Thomas' death was a complete tragedy, and this is the wrong piece to be marking up with snide comments. It's written as a eulogy to honor the man. Thomas was a great player who happened to play for our rivals and he deserves any football fan's respect.

Maybe I am overreacting but I just don't think this is funny. The man has a family and this is basically a public venue. Show some respect.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:04 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Mr. Elway View Post
Thomas' death was a complete tragedy, and this is the wrong piece to be marking up with snide comments. It's written as a eulogy to honor the man. Thomas was a great player who happened to play for our rivals and he deserves any football fan's respect.

Maybe I am overreacting but I just don't think this is funny. The man has a family and this is basically a public venue. Show some respect.



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Last edited by Bronco Rob; 08-04-2009 at 08:07 AM..
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:16 AM   #11
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One of the FEW games I saw in Australia was that "Shannon Sharpe d Derrick Thomas" debacle! It was hilarious!
And yes Mr. Elway is over-reacting, it's statement of fact that Thomas imploded on the field for one game, IMO there is nothing "snide" about it!


Thomas was a great player and worthy of HOF induction, but off the field, he was HUMAN just like all of us. All he had to do was wear a damn seatbelt and he'd probably be alive to see his induction!!
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:20 AM   #12
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I wonder if Shannon Sharpe is going to speak on his behalf.
I was thinking Travis Henry. Since he surpassed his record.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:20 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Elway View Post
Thomas' death was a complete tragedy, and this is the wrong piece to be marking up with snide comments. It's written as a eulogy to honor the man. Thomas was a great player who happened to play for our rivals and he deserves any football fan's respect.

Maybe I am overreacting but I just don't think this is funny. The man has a family and this is basically a public venue. Show some respect.
Yeah I agree. The guy died and dancing on his grave by ripping on Schottenheimer or Thomas' Travis Henry-esque ventures aren't the classiest thing in the world.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:30 AM   #14
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Yeah I agree. The guy died and dancing on his grave by ripping on Schottenheimer or Thomas' Travis Henry-esque ventures aren't the classiest thing in the world.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/foo...mas_estate_ap/


That's classy my friend.....



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Old 08-04-2009, 08:32 AM   #15
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I agree with Mr. Elway and Kaylore. Changing the name takes away from the story.

I hated DT, because he was so great and stuck it to the Broncos all the time. The hate I had for the guy was more out of respect. He was a truely great player. It would have been cool if he could have come over to the Broncos with Neil Smith.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:48 AM   #16
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I agree with Mr. Elway and Kaylore. Changing the name takes away from the story.

I hated DT, because he was so great and stuck it to the Broncos all the time. The hate I had for the guy was more out of respect. He was a truely great player. It would have been cool if he could have come over to the Broncos with Neil Smith.

Great player?!? Oh contraire......

1.) Where was he in the biggest game of his career?
2.) Why did he disappear in the postseason?
3.) Why was he a one dimensional one trick pony?
4.) Why is he getting into the HOF when players like...
Leslie O'Neal
Kevin Greene
Richard Dent aren't?

I could go on and on but you get the idea....

Oh yeah click on that link so you can see how classy DT was.....



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Old 08-04-2009, 08:55 AM   #17
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Apparantly, some of us have warped back to third grade. Chokenheimer? I mean, really?
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:13 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Elway View Post
Thomas' death was a complete tragedy, and this is the wrong piece to be marking up with snide comments. It's written as a eulogy to honor the man. Thomas was a great player who happened to play for our rivals and he deserves any football fan's respect.

Maybe I am overreacting but I just don't think this is funny. The man has a family and this is basically a public venue. Show some respect.
Yes, you are overreacting. And don't laugh if you don't think it's funny. This is a Bronco board and Thomas did go beserk on Sharpe in that game. I don't call it dancing on his grave, I call it talking about something Thomas brought on himself. He was a good player, don't necessarily think he belongs in the HOF, but he is going and I did enjoy watching him play at times. But call it what you will, I call it a complete temper tantrum. His death did not change that.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:28 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco Rob View Post
Great player?!? Oh contraire......

1.) Where was he in the biggest game of his career?
2.) Why did he disappear in the postseason?
3.) Why was he a one dimensional one trick pony?
4.) Why is he getting into the HOF when players like...
Leslie O'Neal
Kevin Greene
Richard Dent aren't?

I could go on and on but you get the idea....

Oh yeah click on that link so you can see how classy DT was.....



If you want to point out that he didn't come up big in the post season, then the HOF should kick out a number of players who are in there.

One dimensional? And Kevin Greene wasn't? He only played on passing downs for a good portion of his career.

And the other guys that you named, who's to say that they won't make it in? Time will tell.

Bottom line is that DT was a great player and should be in the HOF.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:41 AM   #20
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Yes, you are overreacting. And don't laugh if you don't think it's funny. This is a Bronco board and Thomas did go beserk on Sharpe in that game. I don't call it dancing on his grave, I call it talking about something Thomas brought on himself. He was a good player, don't necessarily think he belongs in the HOF, but he is going and I did enjoy watching him play at times. But call it what you will, I call it a complete temper tantrum. His death did not change that.
My post has nothing to do with whether or not DT lost his **** at Sharpe that day - he did, and it was funny. Our team was great then and it was a great moment. The Chiefs suck and I don't care much for Schottenheimer. Thomas also clearly made some bad calls in his personal life, as have all of us at one time or another. All of that is beside the point though.

There is a difference between making fun of someone and making fun of someone in the context of their dying, being eulogized and being honored. For crying out loud, Bronco Rob graffitied the sentence describing how upset Marty and his wife were when they found out what had happened. You really think that's fair game?

I guess if some people can't see the difference there's not much use in trying to explain it. It's not my thread and I'm new here, so I will shut up about it.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:04 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco Rob View Post
Great player?!? Oh contraire......

1.) Where was he in the biggest game of his career?
What was the biggest game of his career? The 1993 AFC Championship Game?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco Bob
2.) Why did he disappear in the postseason?
Disappear? He recorded 6.5 sacks in 10 career postseason games. On pace for a 10+ plus sack season.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco Bob
3.) Why was he a one dimensional one trick pony?
It's not like the 3-4 outside linebacker position has a detailed job description. DT's assignment was to pin his ears back and go after the passer. He was exceptional at that one trait. Putting heat on the quarterback is one of the most highly valued aspects of football.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco Bob
4.) Why is he getting into the HOF when players like...

Leslie O'Neal
Kevin Greene
Richard Dent aren't?

I could go on and on but you get the idea....
First off, O'Neal and Dent aren't the best comps for Thomas. Thomas spent the majority of his career as a 3-4 outside linebacker, while O'Neal and Dent were down linemen for a big chunk of their careers. In fact, Dent played his whole career with his hand on the ground.

Second, O'Neal, Greene and Dent simply don't measure up to Thomas.

Derrick Thomas
2-time first team NFL All-Pro
9-time Pro Bowler
Five NFL HOF players on his most similar list
(Bobby Bell*, Jack Lambert*, Randy Gradishar, Dick Butkus*, Maxie Baughan, Robert Brazile, Dave Robinson, Jack Ham*, Chris Hanburger, Andre Tippett*)

Leslie O'Neal
0-time first team NFL All-Pro
6-time Pro Bowler
Two NFL HOF players on his most similar list
(Jacob Green, Fred Dryer, George Andrie, Verlon Biggs, Neil Smith, Coy Bacon, Curley Culp, Vern Den Herder, Elvin Bethea*, Art Donovan*)

Richard Dent
1-time first team NFL All-Pro
4-time Pro Bowler
Two NFL HOF players on his most similar list
(Claude Humphrey, Ray Childress, Neil Smith, Steve McMichael, L.C. Greenwood, Howie Long*, Jim Katcavage, Dan Hampton*, La'Roi Glover, Cortez Kennedy)

Kevin Greene
2-time first NFL All-Pro
5-time Pro Bowler
Three NFL HOF players on his most similar list
(Andre Tippett*, Joe Fortunato, Andy Russell, Sam Mills, Tom Jackson, Wilber Marshall, Sam Huff*, Charles Haley, Dave Wilcox*, Chad Brown)
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:10 AM   #22
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Way to be classy, guys.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:35 AM   #23
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Way to be classy, guys.
I agree

it is a shame, I have mad respect for DT and won't even participate in the back and forth on it...****ting on this honor even by having to be cute with the name changes is just a DB move, sorry
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:41 AM   #24
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LB52 I agree with your post, but Richard Dent was a Super Bowl MVP. That needs to be mentioned.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:46 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Mr. Elway View Post
There is a difference between making fun of someone and making fun of someone in the context of their dying, being eulogized and being honored. For crying out loud, Bronco Rob graffitied the sentence describing how upset Marty and his wife were when they found out what had happened. You really think that's fair game?

The Chokenheimer refrerence is a jab at marty's post season record....

When did I make fun of anyone dying?

I apologize if my parody upset your delicate sensibilities.



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