We Still Love For DT
Jake White @Jakewhite58 Chiefs Focus @Chiefsfocus
I still remember my Dad telling me that Derrick Thomas was involved in a car crash in January 2000. There I was in my room, with my Derrick Thomas, and Marcus Allen poster over my head, and my Dad was telling me that my favorite player was seriously injured in a car crash. Two weeks later I wasn't ready to hear that he had tragically passed away. I know I was in the majority of Kansas City when I mourned his death, not only for what he did on the field but for what he had contributed to the community.
I was born in 1987 so my whole early memory of the Chiefs was Marty Schottenheimer, Starter Jackets, Zubaz Pants, and Derrick Thomas leaning around an offensive tackle on his way to the quarterback. It was like watching poetry, he was so fast and agile, that the teams could not just stop him, only contain him. He was a menace on the defense. Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowls, All-Pro’s, and NFL Man of the Year award, DT wasn't new to being awarded for his excellence.
I still remember my parents and my Grandparents (stubbornly Colts fans), talking about his 7 sack game against the Seahawks and how he seemed possessed to finish his mission. Of course, the running joke was that even with DT’s heroics and record-setting game, we still found a way to lose. He finished that season with 20 sacks and embedded himself in my heart and all Chiefs fans. He was the lifeblood of a team that filled you with hope and despair.
Ever since DT passed away it seems we have been on the lookout for an heir, a person that we would feel drives the fear in the heart of defenses. We’ve had plenty of contenders, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Jared Allen, Justin Houston, and most recently Chris Jones and Frank Clark. All these guys have been fan favorites in their time with the Chiefs. Justin Houston even went on to break DT’s record with 22 sacks in a season. All these guys have inspired the teams and the fans, but none have made the dent that DT made.
We still do fly-overs before some games, and when he passed the missing man formation was used to honor him. The missing man fly-over for those that don't know is when the planes fly in a V shape composed of four aircraft, with one in front, two, then only one in the last row, symbolizing the missing man. DT’s father went MIA in a bombing run over North Vietnam. Of course, this stuck with DT throughout his life, and when the Chiefs would do fly-overs it was a constant reminder of his father and what he had sacrificed. For the Chiefs to honor not only DT and his father performing the missing man formation, reflected the impact he had on the team and city. We didn't just care about DT, we cared about his family and legacy.