Jan. 31, 2009
TAMPA, Fla. - Alabama All-American Derrick Thomas has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming the seventh former Crimson Tide star to be enshrined into the National Football League’s elite group of players and executives.
The six-man class was elected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee who met today in Tampa, Florida. The newest members of the Hall were selected from a list of 17 finalists that had been determined earlier by the committee.
“This is an exciting day for Chiefs fans across the country and an exciting day for our family,” Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt said. “Derrick Thomas was a cornerstone of the modern era of the Chiefs, and one of the most feared pass rushers of his generation. We are thrilled with his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009.
“His outstanding statistics and play on the field made him deserving of pro football’s highest individual honor, but – just as importantly – he was a hall of famer in the Kansas City community. Derrick’s legacy of community involvement is among the finest for any player in Chiefs history, and he will be remembered for contributions like the Third and Long Foundation and his work to help others long after his induction ceremony.”
He is joined by wide receiver Bob Hayes, guard Randall McDaniel, defensive end Bruce Smith, owner Ralph Wilson, and defensive back Rod Woodson in the 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.
Thomas also joins former UA greats Don Hutson (Green Bay, 1963), Bart Starr (Green Bay, 1977), Joe Namath (New York Jets, 1985), John Hannah (New England, 1991), Dwight Stephenson (Miami Dolphins, 1998) and Ozzie Newsome (Cleveland Browns, 1999) in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hutson was a member of the inaugural Hall of Fame Class in 1963.
Alabama is fourth in college football history with seven Pro Football Hall of Fame selections, trailing Southern California (11), Notre Dame (10) and Michigan (8) on the all-time list. Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio State, Oregon and Syracuse have six each.
Thomas was the Chiefs first-round selection (fourth overall) in the ‘89 NFL Draft out of the University of Alabama. A nine-time Pro Bowl selection, Thomas holds Kansas City’s franchise record and ranks 11th in NFL history with 126.5 career sacks. A native of Miami, Florida, Thomas also holds Chiefs records for career safeties (3), forced fumbles (45) and fumble recoveries (19). Only two players in NFL history own more safeties or fumble return TDs (4) than Thomas. He is also sixth in team history with 728 career tackles. Thomas recorded an NFL single-game record 7.0 sacks vs. Seattle (11/11/90). During the ‘90s, no other NFL player recorded more sacks than Thomas’ total of 116.5, including a franchise-record 20.0 sacks for the Chiefs in ‘90.
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s NFL All-Decade Team of the ‘90s, Thomas was the cornerstone around whom the Chiefs franchise was rebuilt under Peterson. During the ‘90s, the Chiefs constructed a 102-58 regular season record and led the NFL in turnover differential (+128). In the 17 seasons prior to Thomas’ arrival in Kansas City, the franchise made just one playoff appearance and enjoyed just four winning seasons. During Thomas’ 11 seasons with the Chiefs from ‘89-99, the team earned seven playoff berths, won three AFC West titles and recorded 10 winning seasons.
Truly one of the most dominant players of his era, Thomas produced 27 multi-sack games during his NFL tenure. From ‘92-99, the Chiefs were an astounding 16-1 when Thomas registered 2.0 or more sacks. He was also the key figure in Kansas City’s record-setting ‘95 defensive unit that ranked in the NFL’s top five in scoring defense (1st), total defense (2nd), rushing defense (3rd) and pass defense (5th) as the Chiefs posted a 13-3 regular season record for the first time in team history.
A stalwart in the Kansas City community, Thomas was named the ‘93 NFL Man of the Year for his philanthropic efforts. Thomas’ “Third and Long Foundation” is still active in the Kansas City community, continuing the reading and scholarship programs he began. In June of 2001, the Derrick Thomas Academy, a tuition-free public charter school was launched in Kansas City. The academy is the first-ever public elementary school named after an NFL hero.
Thomas was posthumously inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2001. He died in his hometown of Miami, Florida on February 8, 2000 after suffering a serious auto accident in Kansas City, Missouri on January 23, 2000.
The 2009 class will increase to 253 the number of all-time greats permanently honored in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Enshrinement of the Class of 2009 will take place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, on Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Enshrinement Ceremony will be televised live by both ESPN and the NFL Network.
The annual NFL Hall of Fame Game - featuring the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans - will be played on Sunday, August 9, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. and broadcast live by NBC Sports.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival is a multi-day celebration of the enshrinement of the newest Hall of Fame Class. Held in Canton each year, the festival includes 15 special public events and culminates with the Enshrinement Ceremony and NFL Hall of Fame Game. Two other major events are the Enshrinees Dinner (Friday, August 7), and the Enshrinees GameDay Roundtable (Sunday, August 9). It is at the Enshrinees Dinner where each member of the Class of 2009 will be presented his gold Pro Football Hall of Fame Jacket. At the GameDay Roundtable, the members of the Class of 2009 will be featured center stage to share memories of the game and their personal feelings about being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Individual enshrinement tickets and Festival Fan Packages are on sale now. Ticket information can be found on the Hall of Fame’s website at Profootballhof.com.
Here are the bio sketches of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009:
Wide Receiver . . . 5-11, 185 . . . Florida A&M . . . 1965-1974 Dallas Cowboys, 1975 San Francisco 49ers . . . 11 seasons, 132 games . . . Selected as a future pick by Cowboys, seventh round, 1964 NFL Draft (88th player overall) and future choice by Denver, 14th round (105th player overall) 1964 AFL Draft . . . Won a pair of gold medals in the 1964 Olympic Games earning him the title “World’s Fastest Human” . . . As a rookie, his 46 receptions for 1,003 yards led all Cowboys receivers
. . . His world class speed was major factor in Cowboys offensive successes . . . “Bullet Bob” terrorized defensive backs and demanded deep double coverage rarely seen in the NFL at that time . . . Often said that bump and run defense was developed to slow him down . . . Used his speed “in a football sense,” rather than just trying to run fast . . . Four times was named first- or second-team All-NFL … Three times led the Cowboys in receptions, including back-to-back titles in 1965-66 when he caught a total of 110 passes for more than 2,200 yards and 25 touchdowns . . . For 11-year career, Hayes accumulated 7,414 yards and 71 touchdowns . . . His 71 career touchdown receptions remain a Cowboys’ club record . . . Born December 20, 1942 in Jacksonville, Florida. . .Died September 18, 2002, at age of 59.
Guard. . . 6-3, 276 . . . Arizona State. . . 1988-1999 Minnesota Vikings, 2000-01 Tampa Bay Buccaneers . . . 14 seasons, 222 games . . . Selected by the Vikings in first round (19th player overall) of 1988 NFL Draft . . . Played in all 16 games as rookie, starting 15 . . . Earned All-Rookie honors . . . Started in 13 consecutive playoff games with the Vikings . . . Started in 202 consecutive games before retiring . . . Possessed uncanny ability to either finesse block or overpower opponents . . . Led Vikings offensive line that held opponents to a sack every 22.7 attempts (1994), and every 21.3 attempts in 1998 . . .
Blocked for six 1,000-yard rushers and five 3,000-yard passers during career . . . With McDaniel leading the offensive line, team captured NFC Central Division titles in 1989, 1992, 1994, and 1998 . . . Anchored offensive line of explosive Vikings team that led league with then-record 556 points in 1998 . . . Named All-Pro nine consecutive times (1990-98) . . . Selected to play in a record 12 consecutive AFC-NFC Pro Bowls (1990-2001) . . . Born December 19, 1964 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Defensive End . . . 6-4, 280 . . . Virginia Tech . . . 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000-03 Washington Redskins . . .19 playing seasons, 279 games . . . Bills’ first-round draft pick (1st player overall), 1985 NFL Draft . . . All-America choice at Virginia Tech . . . Considered one of the most dominant defensive players in NFL history . . . Known as fierce pass rusher who possessed tremendous strength . . . His 200 career sacks is NFL all-time record . . . Recorded 10 or more sacks in an NFL record 13 seasons . . . Most consider 1990 as his finest single season during which he recorded 19 sacks, including four against Colts QB Jeff George in the first 20 minutes of a Week 14 game and sacked Giants QB Jeff Hostetler for a safety in Super Bowl XXV . . . Was a dominant part of Bills championship teams that between 1988-1995 won six AFC Eastern Division crowns (1988-1991, 1993, 1995) and four AFC championships (1990-93) . . . Named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 1990 and 1996 . . . Named to the NFL’s All Decade Teams of the 1980s and 1990s … Named first- or second-team All-Pro 11 times and selected to play in 11 Pro Bowls (1988-1991, 1993-99) . . . Born June 18, 1963 in Norfolk, Virginia.
Linebacker . . . 6-3, 243 . . . Alabama . . . 1989-1999 Kansas City Chiefs. . . 11 seasons, 169 games . . . Selected in the first round (4th player overall) in 1989 NFL Draft . . . Consensus All-America . . . Amassed 10 sacks and 75 tackles to earn Defensive Rookie of the Year honors . . . In 1990 recorded league-leading and team record 20 sacks; including NFL record seven sacks in game vs. Seahawks . . . Also recorded six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 63 tackles, five pass deflections, 35 quarterback pressures . . . Named to nine Pro Bowls . . . No player amassed more sacks during 1990s than 116.5 by Thomas . . . Finished career with 126.5 sacks; fourth highest total by linebacker in NFL history at the time . . . Had 10 or more sacks in a season seven times; recorded multi-sack games 27 times . . . Forced 45 fumbles, had 19 fumble recoveries, scored four touchdowns on fumble returns and added three safeties during career . . . Lone interception came in final season . . .Member of NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s . . . All-NFL three times. . .Named first-team All-AFC seven times during eight-year stretch (1989-1996) . . . In 11 years Thomas anchored defense, Chiefs finished first or second in AFC West ten times, made seven playoff appearances, won three division titles . . . Born January 1, 1967 in Miami, Florida …
Died February 8, 2000, at age of 33.
RALPH WILSON, JR.
Founder/Owner . . . Virginia, Michigan . . . 1960-present Buffalo Bills . . . One of original founders of American Football League, Wilson formed Buffalo Bills in 1959 . . . During tenure as team owner, Bills won AFL Championships in 1964 and 1965, AFC titles in 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993 on way to unprecedented four consecutive appearances in Super Bowls XXV, XXVI, XXVII, and XXVIII . . . Bills 103 regular season wins, second most in NFL during 1990s . . . Helped lead AFL through early years making tough decisions that were necessary for league’s survival . . . Began talks with Carroll Rosenbloom, then owner of NFL’s Colts in January 1965, that eventually resulted in AFL-NFL merger . . . Considered “voice of reason,” Wilson served as President of AFL, was on AFL’s Expansion Committee and AFL-NFL Negotiations Committee
. . . Was prominent in 1977 negotiations between NFL Management Council and NFL Players Association . . . Has served as Chairman of NFL Pension Committee, Labor Committee, Super Bowl Site Committee, NFL Expansion Committee, NFL Realignment Committee . . . Born October 17, 1918 in Columbus, Ohio.
Cornerback/Safety . . . 6-0, 200 . . . Purdue . . . 1987-1996 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers, 1998-2001 Baltimore Ravens, 2002-03 Oakland Raiders . . . 17 playing seasons, 238 games with 229 starts . . . Steelers first-round draft pick (10th player overall), 1987 NFL Draft . . . First-team All-America at Purdue . . . First interception of pro career resulted in 45-yard touchdown return . . . From 1991-94 recorded 12 sacks and 19 interceptions, returning three for TDs . . . In 1995 suffered serious knee injury with recovery time projected to be six to 12 months . . . Returned to action in just four months and played in Super Bowl XXX . . . Member of NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team and NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s . . . NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 1993 . . . Intercepted 71 passes in career; third on NFL all-time list . . . Is NFL’s all-time leader in interception return yardage (1,483) . . . Holds NFL record for most interceptions returned for TDs (12)
. . . Six-time first-team All-Pro choice (1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2001) . . . Earned All-Pro honors as cornerback, kick returner, safety . . . Chosen to play in 11 Pro Bowls – seven with Steelers, three with Ravens, and one with Raiders . . . Born March 10, 1965, in Fort Wayne, Indiana.