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Last Year Was for Lenny, but it’s for DT This Year

When the great Len Dawson passed away in August of 2022, I rang the bell in his honor; the Kansas City Chiefs needed to win Super Bowl LVII for him. So, they did just that. With a return engagement on the horizon in Las Vegas, this year’s message is to win Super Bowl LVIII for the late Derrick Thomas.

When you mention number 58 to any Kansas City Chiefs fan, they are reminded of one player, the late Derrick Thomas. On game days, in the street, in cities across America where Chiefs fans are huddled to watch their team, you can see Derrick Thomas’s jersey everywhere. Though he died in February 2000, he is as beloved as any man who has worn a Chiefs jersey.

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He, along with Len Dawson, Patrick Mahomes, and Travis Kelce, are firmly chiseled in the Chiefs’ Mount Rushmore of Champions. Derrick Thomas was unique; he did things his way and had an impressive Hall of Fame Career tragically cut short. He also never won a Super Bowl in Kansas City.

With Super Bowl LVIII (58) set for a week from Sunday in Las Vegas, the Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers in a repeat of Super Bowl LIV. They will be underdogs heading into this matchup like they were in the Divisional and Championship rounds of the playoffs.

Thomas was never an underdog. He was a star from the moment he hit the field in 1989. He changed the game of football with his rushing prowess and delivered whenever the Chiefs defense needed a big play. His accomplishments are vast, his personality broke all the color spectrums, and his zest for life was second to none.

I could use this entire column to ring accolades for DT. As a sentimental Chiefs fan, I appreciate the franchise’s history and every player and coach who contributed to my fandom for this franchise.

Before the season, I spoke with my friend Donna, and she said wouldn’t it be great if the Chiefs won Super Bowl LVIII in honor of Derrick? I said that would be amazing. Five months later, that possibility is as real as it gets.

When Dawson passed away, my heart sank that I lost my Childhood Hero and my friend. I knew Derrick Thomas, and we shared a memorable time in our lives the night before he sacked Jim Craig seven times at Arrowhead.

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Still, I’m shocked that as great as he was on the football field, he reached the AFC title game once and was pulled from that game. For those who don’t remember, Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer benched DT in the second half of the game because his run defense was nonexistent. With Thurman Thomas running up and down the field at will, it was hardly just on Thomas.

As we dissect the upcoming Super Bowl, we will be fed mountains of analysis, stories, theories, and bait clicks from those wanting their fifteen minutes of fame; I hope we don’t lose sight of the history of the Chiefs.

We are living in unprecedented times thanks to Patrick Mahomes. For the first time in franchise history, we have our own Michael Jordan. What this young man has done at the age of 28 truly is incredible to witness.

After six years as a starter, six AFC West titles, two NFL MVP awards, and six AFC Championship game appearances, he’s about to play in his fourth Super Bowl, winning two thus far, yet with all the hardware on his mantle, he’s as humble as Tom Sawyer. He also understands the players before him and their accomplishments. He often spoke of Dawson as the steward of the franchise, and the two spoke often in his waning years.

The Chiefs theme for this Super Bowl is already being swung for the first lady of the NFL, Norma Hunt, who passed away earlier this year. Norma Hunt was a legend in the NFL, and she deserves every accolade you can give her and her loyalty to the game her husband helped create. My reference point to DT is simply based on the significance of the number, not who is more deserving.

Still, if you asked Mahomes about Derrick Thomas, he’d also know all about his contributions to the Chiefs. Along side Norma Hunt, I can’t think of a better way to honor one of the greatest Chiefs ever with a win in Super Bowl 58.

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