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tk13
02-06-2005, 01:06 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascitystar/sports/10828014.htm

THOMAS LEFT OUT OF HALL
Chief comes up short in first chance

By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas sacked Steve Young four times and Dan Marino once.

Despite those sacks and 129 others Thomas made in his 11-year career, he fell short of joining Young, Marino and two other men as members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2005 on Saturday.

Marino, the most prodigious passer in NFL history during his 17 years with the Miami Dolphins, and Young, one of the most efficient passers and effective runners for the San Francisco 49ers, were joined by two senior committee nominees from the 1920s and 1930s — quarterback Benny Friedman and running back Fritz Pollard, who was the league's first black head coach.

Thomas, who died in 2000 as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident, was one of 15 finalists for enshrinement and was in his first year of eligibility. Former University of Missouri and St. Louis Cardinals cornerback Roger Wehrli also was a finalist for the first time.

“Obviously we're disappointed,” said Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson, who in his first year as the club's top executive took Thomas in the first round of the 1989 draft and built one of the league's top defenses around him.

“I thought he had a real good shot to get in,” Peterson said. “We hope next year it will work out. I'm a little surprised there were only four elected when there's a maximum of six, and I'm personally surprised that both old-timers got in, but whoever presented them did a great job.”

Indeed, the groundswell of support among the board of selectors for the two senior candidates might have cost Thomas a shot at being a finalist. Thomas survived the cut from 15 to 10 but was dropped when the group was whittled from 10 to six.

Dallas wide receiver Michael Irvin, also in his first year on the ballot, and New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson, in his 12th year, made it to the final six but failed to get the required 80 percent of the votes in the final ballot.

“It was a great group of 15, and a great case was made for Derrick, and there is no shame in not making it in your first year, especially with the caliber of candidates this year,” said Mark Gaughan, a voter from The Buffalo News. “I think Derrick is going to get in one day. He was truly dominant. He forced 45 fumbles; Lawrence Taylor forced 33. Lynn Swann had to wait 14 years.

“You look at these two old-timers. They were unbelievable candidates. If Fritz Pollard isn't in the Hall of Fame, there shouldn't be a Hall of Fame.”

The surge in support for the senior candidates, said Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News, stemmed from “historical mistakes the sport has made by not putting these guys in.”

Also, the abundance of pass rushers on the ballot might have hurt Thomas' chances. Richard Dent, Claude Humphrey and L.C. Greenwood also were part of the 15-man ballot.

“If you had just one or two, it's easier to sort it out,” Gosselin said. “Those guys all got knocked out pretty quick. None of the pass rushers made the final six. I think there was almost some confusion. Derrick made it to 10, which is great in your first year. You look at the 1990s, and this was maybe the greatest pass rusher of the '90s.”

However, some voters saw Thomas as only a pass rusher.

“I think there was a sense by some people that maybe he was too much of a pass rusher and not enough of an all-round player,” said Ron Borges of The Boston Globe. “That was the only question that came up about him in the room. I'm pretty sure he's going to make it one day.”

The Chiefs conducted an active letter-writing campaign on Thomas' behalf, including letters from several Hall of Famers and current coaches such as Bill Walsh, Marv Levy, Bill Cowher, Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Shanahan, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Jackie Slater, Marcus Allen and Warren Moon, said Peterson. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt also sent letters to the voters.

“It was gracious of them doing it,” Peterson said. “We're going to be optimistic for next year.”

Next year could be even more difficult for Thomas, considering first-time candidates will include quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Moon, running back Thurman Thomas and the late defensive end Reggie White.

Bob Gretz of the Chiefs' flagship radio station, KCFX-FM, serves as Kansas City's representative on the board of selectors, but had no comment on Saturday's election.

Others were surprised Thomas didn't make it.

“I was shocked, ‘' said Edwin Pope of the Miami Herald. “I thought he'd make it. He was a great player for a long time. He had more sacks than anybody in the 1990s. But there was sentiment for two real old-timers, and that probably cost him.”

Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star said: “I voted for him. The impact he had, and what he did, I thought he merited it. My biggest conflict was Derrick Thomas or Michael Irvin. I thought Derrick Thomas made more of an impact.”

Thomas, a nine-time Pro Bowler, made 126 1/2 sacks in the regular season, which ranks 10th all-time, plus 7 1/2 more in the postseason. In Thomas' 11 years, the Chiefs enjoyed 10 winning seasons, made the playoffs seven times, won three AFC West titles and reached the AFC championship game in 1993.

Thomas also set an NFL record with seven sacks in a 1990 game against Seattle and had six sacks in a 1998 game against Oakland.

“When you had to talk about guys like Derrick Thomas, he was like a Lawrence Taylor, and you had to figure out how to block him, especially on the road when you know you weren't going to be hearing snap counts,” Young said. “But when you're talking about the players in the Hall of Fame, you're talking about the smallest percentages of guys who ever played the game.

“You take that list of 15 and ask, ‘How do they go from here?' These are all the greatest players who ever played.”

Both Marino, who passed for more yards (61,361) and threw more touchdown passes (420) than anyone in league history, and Young, who led the league in passing six times and is the highest-rated passer of all time, paid homage to Pollard and Friedman — and their contributions to the game.

“We stand on their backs, and it's particularly important for Fritz Pollard and what he meant to the game and means to the game today,” Young said. “There's a foundation there, and we both appreciate and honor the people who came before and played football in a different era, for not nearly as much money — not even close. You talk about truly having a passion for football.”

tk13
02-06-2005, 01:09 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascitystar/sports/10828392.htm

Defensive stars lose stats battle

JASON WHITLOCK

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Derrick Thomas will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It will just take longer than any of us anticipated.

It should come as no great surprise that the linebacker who spearheaded Kansas City's professional football resurgence in the 1990s failed to qualify for induction into the hall on his first attempt. Defensive players rarely get the call in their first year of eligibility.

Since 1990, when linebacker Jack Lambert became the fourth member of Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain to gain admission in his first year of eligibility, 24 players/coaches have gained entry into the hall the first time around. Only four of those 24 players were defenders — Ronnie Lott, Lawrence Taylor, Mike Singletary and Randy White.

Offensive players, with their easy-to-understand statistics, have a much easier time getting into the Hall of Fame than do their defensive counterparts. Since 1987, seven quarterbacks and seven running backs have been enshrined in their first year of eligibility. Heck, even offensive linemen get more love than defenders. Five offensive linemen have been first-time selections.

Defense may win championships, but when 39 voters lock themselves in a room for an afternoon, they go with the men who produce big numbers, and, at least on Saturday, they righted past wrongs.

So quarterbacks Dan Marino and Steve Young, no-brainer selections, and old-schoolers Benny Friedman and Fritz Pollard will be immortalized this summer in Canton, Ohio. Marino and Young have the stats and MVP trophies to back up their selections. Friedman, a quarterback in the 1920s and '30s, was the league's first effective passer. Pollard, a coach and player in the '20s, was one of the league's first African-American contributors.

Derrick Thomas was simply a terrific defender, the most deadly pass-rushing force of the 1990s. One day that will get him into the Hall of Fame. It might take as many as 10 years, though. Next year's class has two automatic inductees — Troy Aikman and Reggie White. That leaves four possible slots available; there's a maximum of six inductees per year.

Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin will make it in all likelihood next year. “The Playmaker” was one of the six finalists Saturday. When you make the final six, the 39 voters are polled yes or no on whether you should make the hall. A candidate needs 80 percent of the 39 votes. Irvin deserved 100 percent of the vote. Irvin, Aikman and Emmitt Smith led the Cowboys to three Super Bowls. After Emmitt, you could argue that Irvin was the most valuable member of the Jimmy Johnson-led Cowboys dynasty.

Oddly, despite the explosion in the NFL passing game, since 1987 only one receiver — Steve Largent — has been inducted into the hall in his first year of eligibility.

Six members of the Steelers' dynasty — four Super Bowls — were first-ballot Hall of Famers. It appears that only Aikman and Smith will be first-ballots from the Cowboys. That makes no sense. The voters dissed Irvin because of his off-field problems, and, I believe, because he's a horrible TV broadcaster. Generally speaking, being on TV helps you get into the Hall of Fame. Just ask Howie Long and Dan Dierdorf. But Irvin's mush-mouthed analysis is doing him more harm than good.

Having been spanked this year, the hall voters will enshrine Irvin in 2006.

So now we're down to three spots. If Irvin goes, then look for voters to feel compelled to right the Art Monk wrong. When he retired in 1995 after 16 seasons, Monk held the record for all-time receptions. He's No. 5 now and No. 9 in all-time receiving yards. He was a member of Joe Gibbs' Super Bowl teams. Monk was the Marcus Allen of receivers — consistent, durable and classy. There's growing outrage among voters that Monk hasn't made it.

Giants linebacker Harry Carson is just plain outraged. Carson, a member of the Giants, may have botched his chance to make it this year by writing an angry letter saying he didn't want to be considered for induction anymore. He made the final six on Saturday. Carson played in nine Pro Bowls (the same number as Thomas) and was a member of Bill Parcells' first Super Bowl team. He belongs in the Hall of Fame. He'll be a strong candidate next year, despite his tantrum, particularly if Carson's old position coach and defensive coordinator Bill Belichick demands that Carson be enshrined. Belichick, New England's coach, is about to become the new Vince Lombardi.

That leaves Thomas in a fight for the No. 6 spot with Pittsburgh's L.C. Greenwood — another Steel Curtain defender — Chicago's Richard Dent and whoever might turn up as the old-school flavor of the year.

USA Today's Jarrett Bell, a hall voter, told me that on Saturday no one held it against Thomas that the Chiefs never appeared in a Super Bowl during his career.

“It never came up,” Bell said.

The problem is had the Chiefs won a Super Bowl, it would've come up in conversation. Offensive players don't need Super Bowl titles to get in the Hall of Fame early. They have stats. It takes defense to win championships. And it takes championships for defensive players to win their proper respect.

tk13
02-06-2005, 01:11 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascitystar/sports/10828083.htm

DERRICK THOMAS: IN THEIR WORDS

“If I ever had an issue with Derrick and had him come to my office, he would walk in and have his eyes down. I would tell him that he'd have to do better, and he would say, ‘Coach, I know that.' Then I would say, ‘Just make sure you understand that, and everything will be fine.' He would always get this big grin — you've seen the grin — that was affirmation to me that he did understand and that everything would be OK.”

— Former Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer

“For even the mistakes he made, I don't think he ever had a bad intention. In my eyes, I've lost a really good friend. I miss him all the time. I miss him on third and long.”

— Restaurateur Mike Garozzo

“Derrick was never big on appearing on radio shows. He'd been asked many times, but he always turned down the invitations. But one time back in 1991 or 1992, I had a woman on my morning show on KCFX, and she was a historian on the JFK assassination.

“Now few people knew that Derrick was fascinated by the JFK assassination. He had every book on it, had every film, you name it. Every bit of information about JFK, he had. …When he found out this woman was going to be on the show, he was in the studios, bright and early at 6:30 a.m. And he wasn't exactly a morning person. But there was no way he was going to miss that.

“I think that's the only time we ever got him on the morning show.”

— Bob Gretz, KCFX reporter

“Every time I get in the car, the bell comes on when it's not fastened. Every time that happens, I say, ‘This guy is talking to me. Put your seat belt on.' ”

— John Guy, former Thomas coach at Alabama

“My first experience with Derrick was in his rookie year. I was at Houston, and we played against them. We actually got into a fight, the only one I had ever been in in my career. He chased me to the sideline, and I had thrown the ball just before going out of bounds, and he gave me a little extra push, and I didn't like that. I turned around and got in his face: ‘Hey, rookie, don't do that anymore.' We wound up grabbing each other and tussling underneath the Chiefs' bench. Then, the next series, we came out and apologized to each other, and from then on, we were probably the best of friends.”

— Warren Moon, former NFL quarterback

Count Zarth
02-06-2005, 01:12 AM
Thomas may not make it next year either. Reggie White and Warren Moon definitely deserve the HOF over Derrick.

I'd say he's even with Thermal. If Aikman gets in on his first try the HOF should be blown up.

tk13
02-06-2005, 01:57 AM
The Chiefs conducted an active letter-writing campaign on Thomas' behalf, including letters from several Hall of Famers and current coaches such as Bill Walsh, Marv Levy, Bill Cowher, Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Shanahan, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Jackie Slater, Marcus Allen and Warren Moon, said Peterson. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt also sent letters to the voters.

That's what stood out to me. Pretty darn impressive....

...also keeps the Bronco fans from talking any smack. :)

Chiefs Pantalones
02-06-2005, 02:01 AM
I didn't think he deserved it the first time, so I'm not bothered by it. Good player, but one dimensional, mostly, IMO.

tk13
02-06-2005, 02:05 AM
I didn't think he deserved it the first time, so I'm not bothered by it. Good player, but one dimensional, mostly, IMO.
Just a good player? Are you serious?

Chiefs Pantalones
02-06-2005, 02:11 AM
Just a good player? Are you serious?

He was mostly one dimensional. What he did was rush the passer. He was great at that; a game changer. Stopping the run, so-so. When the play was right at him, he got ran over. When you can only do one of those things great, and another average, you end up just being a good player, IMO. I've always thought this about DT, nothing new. It's one of the few things I agree with Taco John about. During their prime, the best LB in the AFC West was Junior Seau, not DT. JMO. Sorry.

SoCalBronco
02-06-2005, 02:27 AM
in a sense this might be better for you guys. When Derrick gets in, it will undoubtedly be very emotional for many chiefs fans and the organization and many will flock to Canton. I would think it would be ideal that he gets in during a year when, perhaps, there are no other big name guys getting in. Maybe some old timers and Derrick so that really he can get all the spotlight for that weekend. If you go in with 3 or 4 other big names, sometimes the proper attention due to each is not magnified as much as it should be.

tk13
02-06-2005, 02:28 AM
He was mostly one dimensional. What he did was rush the passer. He was great at that; a game changer. Stopping the run, so-so. When the play was right at him, he got ran over. When you can only do one of those things great, and another average, you end up just being a good player, IMO. I've always thought this about DT, nothing new. It's one of the few things I agree with Taco John about. During their prime, the best LB in the AFC West was Junior Seau, not DT. JMO. Sorry.
Yeah, and Taco goes on and on about the truly best players being "playmakers". There aren't many people in football then or now who were bigger "playmakers" than DT.

You could probably make a case that he got burned against the run sometimes because he'd get lined up at DE. I never liked that for some reason. You said it yourself, he was a "game-changer". I don't think you can underrate he was one of the most feared players in the league... I guess the issue becomes at what point does the ability to do something better than just about anybody else override a weakness?

Chiefs Pantalones
02-06-2005, 02:38 AM
I guess the issue becomes at what point does the ability to do something better than just about anybody else override a weakness?

Don't ask me, ask the people that question that didn't vote him in this first time. Don't be concerned, he'll get in eventually.

Boardin Bronco
02-06-2005, 02:44 AM
John Elway and Mike Shanahan did a classy thing by supporting their respected rival's HOF campaign but Chiefs fans will soon forget. You guys still put my team in the same class as Al-Qaeda.

Rain Man
02-06-2005, 12:47 PM
He was mostly one dimensional. What he did was rush the passer. He was great at that; a game changer. Stopping the run, so-so. When the play was right at him, he got ran over. When you can only do one of those things great, and another average, you end up just being a good player, IMO.


Dan Marino couldn't scramble. I guess he didn't deserve to get in?

Rain Man
02-06-2005, 12:49 PM
John Elway and Mike Shanahan did a classy thing by supporting their respected rival's HOF campaign but Chiefs fans will soon forget. You guys still put my team in the same class as Al-Qaeda.

I'm not sure I'd put them in the same class. Al-Qaeda never covered their turbans with vaseline during a big gun battle.

stevieray
02-06-2005, 12:50 PM
He was mostly one dimensional. What he did was rush the passer. He was great at that; a game changer. Stopping the run, so-so. When the play was right at him, he got ran over. When you can only do one of those things great, and another average, you end up just being a good player, IMO. I've always thought this about DT, nothing new. It's one of the few things I agree with Taco John about. During their prime, the best LB in the AFC West was Junior Seau, not DT. JMO. Sorry.


I think it's pretty damn funny that anyone here thinks they can say what level of player DT was.

FloridaChief
02-06-2005, 12:55 PM
I'm not sure I'd put them in the same class. Al-Qaeda never covered their turbans with vaseline during a big gun battle.

But I think it should be pointed out that Osama bin Laden did invent the illegal chop block.

milkman
02-06-2005, 01:07 PM
He was mostly one dimensional. What he did was rush the passer. He was great at that; a game changer. Stopping the run, so-so. When the play was right at him, he got ran over. When you can only do one of those things great, and another average, you end up just being a good player, IMO. I've always thought this about DT, nothing new. It's one of the few things I agree with Taco John about. During their prime, the best LB in the AFC West was Junior Seau, not DT. JMO. Sorry.

Seau could shed blockers and make plays in run D, but he also had a propensity to overrun plays that weren't run right at him, and he never was the pass rusher that DT was, nor did he make nearly as many momentum changing plays.

cdcox
02-06-2005, 01:20 PM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascitystar/sports/10828014.htm

THOMAS LEFT OUT OF HALL
Chief comes up short in first chance

By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star


The Chiefs conducted an active letter-writing campaign on Thomas' behalf, including letters from several Hall of Famers and current coaches such as Bill Walsh, Marv Levy, Bill Cowher, Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Shanahan, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Jackie Slater, Marcus Allen and Warren Moon, said Peterson. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt also sent letters to the voters.



Dang, with this endorsement, I wouldn't have voted for him either. He should stick to bad beer and overpriced furniture.