Former University of Akron running back Donnell Alexander doesn’t recall too much of his father’s football career, but he does understand what his dad meant to the game.
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Alexander, whose father is Hall of Fame linebacker , was invited to the Kansas City Chief’s rookie minicamp and is hoping to play for the same franchise as his dad. It would also be a dream for him to play for his favorite team.
“It’s a surreal experience,” Alexander told the Kansas City Star. “No matter what, I think I would have come here regardless and at least tried out, because this is where I would love to be — a Chief.”
Alexander was a child when Thomas passed away in February 2000, but is still inspired by his father. Most of his memories of Thomas playing come from watching film of him.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to grow together like I would have liked,’’ explained Alexander to ESPN.com “We talked on the phone some. I had a lot of pictures of him so that’s pretty good, having those memories.’’
The selected linebacker Thomas as the fourth player overall in the 1989 National Football League Draft. His contribution to the Chiefs franchise was nearly immeasurable. Prior to his arrival in Kansas City, the team had made just one playoff appearance since 1971. In the 11 years that Thomas anchored the defense, the Chiefs finished first or second in the AFC West ten times, made seven playoff appearances, and won three division titles.
No player amassed more sacks during the decade of the 1990s than the 116.5 sacks by Thomas. He finished his career with 126.5 sacks which was the fourth highest total by a linebacker in NFL history. Thomas had 10 or more sacks in a season seven times and recorded multi-sack games 27 times during his 169-game career. In addition to his career sack total, Thomas also forced 45 fumbles, had 19 fumble recoveries, scored four touchdowns on fumble returns and added three safeties. His lone interception, which he returned for 20 yards, came during his final season in 1999.
Thomas, a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s, was named first-team All-AFC seven times during an eight-year stretch from 1989 through 1996.