Editor’s note: Derrick Thomas spent nine of his 11 years in the NFL playing with and against Marcus Allen -- first as division foes and later as teammates from 1993 to 1997 with the [Kansas City Chiefs. Allen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003; Thomas, who died in 2000 at the age of 33, will now join him when he is enshrined on Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio.]
I would like to welcome you to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a place where the legends of the game reside in perpetuity for their exploits on the field -- for being the very best of all the football players that have ever graced the gridiron.
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You were an exceptional talent -- one of the most explosive players that I have ever had the chance to play with as well as to play against. You struck fear in the heart of every left tackle that you ever lined up against. I am certain that every time an opponent played the Kansas City Chiefs, you were No. 1 as far as their preparation was concerned. Because if Derrick Thomas had a field day, like you normally did, then your opponent was going to lose.
I think a lot of people would look at your seven-sack performance against the Seattle Seahawks as a moment that exemplifies your career. But I know that one game certainly doesn't define you as a football player. I will always remember you as a teammate who every time you laced it up, I knew you were going to give me and the rest of our team your best performance -- a dominating performance. Not only did you elevate the defense, you lifted the stadium through your play. I remember a sea of red being brought to their feet just by the mere lifting of your arms. You motivated the crowd, raised the whole level of the defense, and inspired the offense with your play.
When you came off the edge you wreaked absolute havoc on the opposing offense. The explosiveness with which you played and how fast you got to the ball continuously changed the momentum of the game. That's what I remember most about playing with and against you.
It is the highest individual honor in professional football to be selected to the Hall of Fame. It is a feeling that leaves you in awe when you reflect on the amount of players that have played this game. To distinguish yourself among all others leaves you with a feeling of gratitude. I am honored to be a part of a group that now considers you one of its distinguished members.
Derrick, congratulations. Even though your stay on this earth was a brief one, you impacted people on and off the field and left a tremendous legacy that you and your family should be extremely proud of. Your name will be synonymous with the game forever.