at 9:00 PM ET
“He wanted to sack quarterbacks and help kids. That was Derrick Thomas.”
Former Teammate and Friend, Neil Smith In-studio for A Football Life: Backstory at 10:00 PM ET
On the football field, Derrick Thomas was a reckless force as a dominant pass rusher. Off the field, he was a relentless philanthropist, mentor, and dad. The combination of Thomas’ two worlds cemented a legacy which continues to thrive – 13 years after his death. He was 33 years old.
NFL Network’s Emmy-nominated series A Football Life continues Tuesday, September 24 at 9:00 PM ET with a profile of Derrick Thomas – a Pro Football Hall of Famer and college football All-American. The one-hour special chronicles Thomas’ childhood challenges, continues through his football dominance and provides a keen focus on his maturation which led to his impact on countless children, teenagers and young adults.
Emmy-nominated actor from CBS’ The Good Wife, Josh Charles, narrates.
Featured stories in Derrick Thomas: A Football Life:
· Individual Success: After achieving 27 sacks his senior year at the University of Alabama, Thomas was drafted fourth overall in the 1989 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. In his 10-year NFL career, he won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, was named to nine Pro Bowls and All-NFL three times. He would be selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
· Post Season Woes: The closest Thomas would come to the Super Bowl would double as a loss that stayed with him forever – the 1993 AFC Championship Game. As a result of a coaching scheme, Thomas, the Chiefs best defensive player, sat out a majority of the second half vs. the Buffalo Bills. The scheme did not work and the Chiefs would be defeated. Over next four years, despite accumulating 44 regular season wins, the Chiefs would not win a single playoff game which includes some excruciating losses.
· Military Admiration: The son of an Air Force Captain who died during a Vietnam War mission, the military was an everlasting theme throughout Thomas’ life. The film documents Thomas’ quest to find out both about his father and the service he performed for his country. Additionally, the film looks at a unique connection between Thomas’ performances on the field during games which there were military fly overs – an uncommon practice in the 1990s. Thomas would play one game during his NFL career on Veterans Day and a special performance ensued.
· Charitable Endeavors: After overcoming a difficult childhood in South Florida, which included an assist from the South Florida judicial system, Thomas dedicated his professional life to helping kids. His legacy still lives today through the Third & Long Foundation which he founded with former teammate and good friend Neil Smith. In 1992 Thomas was named as one of the ‘1000 Points of Light’ by President George Bush and in 1993 he was awarded the NFL Man of the Year award.
· Untimely Death: On a snowy, stormy, miserable January day in Kansas City, Derrick Thomas was on his way to do what he loved: be around football. Despite the Chiefs missing the 1999 NFL playoffs, Thomas wanted to attend the NFC Championship Game in St. Louis. Traveling along the highway at a reported high speed, Thomas would be involved in a car crash. The crash left him paralyzed from the neck down, but alive. However, three weeks later, a blood clot that formed in his legs would travel up to his lung, causing his death.
Derrick Thomas: A Football Life features Thomas talking about his career in his own words through NFL Films achieved film. Additionally, hear from former Kansas City Chief executives, teammates, and numerous influential individuals in Thomas’ life.
Derrick Thomas: A Football Life includes interviews with the following people:
Edith Morgan – Derrick Thomas’ mother
Alexa Harmon-Thomas – Derrick Thomas’ daughter
Derrius Thomas – Derrick Thomas’ son
Kelly Harmon – Mother of Alexa Harmon, Thomas’ daughter
Terri Kendall – Mother of Derrius Thomas, Thomas’ son
Bill Curry – Alabama head coach 1987-1989
John Guy – Alabama assistant coach 1987-1989
Clark Hunt – CEO of Kansas City Chiefs
Marty Schottenheimer – Chiefs head coach 1989-1998
Bill Cowher – Chiefs defensive coordinator 1989-1991
Carl Peterson – Chiefs general manager 1989-2008
Deron Cherry – Chiefs defensive back 1981-1991
Tony Dungy – Chiefs defensive backs coach 1989-1991
Jonathan Hayes – Chiefs tight end 1985-1993
Neil Smith – Chiefs defensive end 1988-1996
Gunther Cunningham – Chiefs head coach 1999-2000
Rahman McGill – Third & Long Alumnus
Joe Posnanski – Former Kansas City Star writer
Bob Gretz – Former Kansas City Star writer
Al Wallace – WDAF-TV, Kansas City
Judge William Gladstone – South Florida Judge
For the first look at Derrick Thomas: A Football Life, visit: http://on.nfl.com/18bTtoq
A Football Life: Backstory
New this season, A Football Life: Backstory airs following each episode at 10:00 PM ET on NFL Network. Hosted by Chris Rose, the 30-minute show provides a deeper look into the lives and stories surrounding each subject, features interviews with relevant individuals, and includes material that did not make the final edition of each A Football Life episode. Viewers will also have the opportunity to interact and offer their thoughts on Twitter by following @NFLNetwork and using the hashtag #AFootballLife.
This week, former teammate and good friend of Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith will be in-studio.
A Football Life: Xtra
Viewers can also interact with and follow the series on their phones and tablets with A Football Life Xtra. Located within the new NFL Mobile app, A Football Life Xtra features producer commentary, photos and artifacts from the NFL Films archives, and career stats and unique facts, as well as trivia games and polls on NFL legends. Visit NFL.com/XTRA on your mobile device to download NFL Mobile. Additionally, every episode of A Football Life – as well as all NFL Network programming – is streamed live on NFL Mobile from Verizon, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Airing on Tuesday nights at 9:00 PM ET throughout the NFL season, A Football Life series examines the iconic individuals and subjects that have had an undeniable and profound impact on the history of the National Football League, offering an inside look into their untold stories.
A broadcast schedule for the October episodes of A Football Life:
- October 1 – Steve Sabol
- October 8 – Matt Millen
- October 15 – Michael Strahan
- October 22 – Pat Summerall
- October 29 – Warren Sapp
Please click on the following link to view the trailer for this season of A Football Life: