Before his life ended too soon, at 33 years old in 2000, Derrick Thomas was among the more dominant pass rushers in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009 and was named to nine Pro Bowl teams. Prior to that, Thomas was a standout at the University of Alabama.
Among the many Thomas inspired is Chiefs rookie linebacker Dee Ford, who the team selected with the 23rd overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft from Auburn. The Chiefs have retired Derrick Thomas’ uniform No. 58, but the number he wore in college (No. 55) was available. So, Ford jumped at the opportunity to wear it.
“The opportunity presented itself, Ford told Rachel Santschi of the Chiefs’ official site. I’d play at any number, but of course 55 came available. This is Derrick Thomas’ college number. It’s all good. I’m not trying to be Derrick Thomas, but he’s a guy that definitely inspired me. The opportunity presented itself, so I took it.”
In his final year at Auburn, Ford recorded 29 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks and was a First Team All-SEC member.
Ford obviously isn’t trying to be Derrick Thomas, but if he can come close the Chiefs will look pretty smart selecting him with their first round draft pick.
H/T Eye on Football