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"I could get the football. I had great ball skills and speed.”
Joined Chiefs as undrafted free agent, 1966. . .Amassed club-record 58 career interceptions. . .Career interception total ranks fourth all-time by pure cornerbacks. . .Led AFL with nine interceptions, 1969. . . Recorded three more interceptions during ’69 playoffs including one in Super Bowl IV victory. . .Had 12 interceptions, two shy of NFL record, 1974. . . Named to five Pro Bowls. . .All-AFL/AFC five times. . .First- or second-team All-NFL 1971, 1974, 1975. . .Born June 3, 1943 in Angleton, Texas.
Emmitt Thomas joined the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent from Bishop College in Dallas, Texas in 1966. He excelled for the Chiefs for the next 13 seasons before retiring after the 1978 season as the team’s all-time leading interceptor.
Thomas picked off 58 passes in his career which he returned for a team record 937 yards and 5 TDs. His interception total ranked fifth all-time in the NFL at the time of his retirement and is still fourth best among true cornerbacks.
A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Thomas intercepted a pass in every season he played except his rookie year. One of the best cornerbacks of his era, he led the American Football League in interceptions in 1969 with nine.
In 1974, he added a second interception title when he picked off a team record and a career-high 12 passes – two short of the NFL mark. A pair of his interceptions that season went for touchdowns. The first came on a 38-yard score that helped seal an opening day victory over the New York Jets on September 15. He closed out the season with a 73-yarder in the finale against Minnesota on December 14. That return was the longest of his career.
Born in Angleton Texas on June 3, 1943, Thomas was a key component of the Chiefs defense that won AFL titles in 1966 and 1969. He intercepted a pass in each of the Chiefs’ playoff victories in the 1969 postseason, including two in the AFL title game against the Oakland Raiders and one in Kansas City’s 23-7 upset win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
Thomas, who led the Chiefs in interceptions in five seasons, was voted a first- or second-team All-AFL/AFC choice five times and a first- or second-team All-NFL selection three times. He was also selected to the Pro Bowl five times.
Following his 181-game playing career, Thomas began a career in coaching. After two seasons in the college ranks, he moved to the NFL in 1981 where he began a long career as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Atlanta Falcons. In December 2007, he was named the interim head coach of the Falcons.
1966 AFL – Kansas City Chiefs 31, Buffalo Bills 7
Thomas did not start but played. He intercepted one pass for 26 yards.
1969 AFL – Kansas City Chiefs 17, Oakland Raiders 7
Thomas started the game at right cornerback. He recorded four tackles, one pass defensed and two interceptions for 69 yards.
Super Bowl I – Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10
Thomas played in the game. He recorded no tackles or interceptions.
Super Bowl IV – Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7
Thomas started the game at right cornerback. He recorded three tackles, two assists, one pass defensed and one interception, which he returned for six yards.
All-NFL: 1974 (AP, PFWA) • 1975 (NEA)
All-NFL Second Team: 1971 (PFWA) • 1974 (NEA) • 1975 (AP)
All-AFL Second Team: 1969 (SN)
All-AFC: 1971 (AP, PW) • 1974 (AP, UPI, SN, PW) • 1975 (UPI, PW)
All-AFC Second Team: 1970 (UPI) • 1971 (UPI)
(5) – 1969, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976
At time of his retirement following 1978 season
[Tied for 1st] Most Season Leading League, Interceptions – 2 (1969, 1974)
[Tied for 3rd] Most Interceptions, Season – 12 (1974)
Chiefs’ records held by Thomas
Records through the 1978 season, Thomas’ final season with Kansas City
[1st] Most Interceptions, Career – 58
[1st] Most Interceptions, Season – 12 (1974)
[1st] Most Interception Return Yards, Career – 938
[2nd] Most Interception Return Yards, Season – 214 (1974)
[2nd] Most Interceptions Returned for Touchdown, Season – 2 (1974)
[Tied for 2nd] Most Interceptions Returned for Touchdown, Career – 5
[3rd] Most Interceptions, Season – 9 (1969)
[3rd] Most Kickoff Returns, Season – 29 (1966)
[Tied for 3rd] Most Seasons – 13
AFL Statistical Championships
Interception Titles: 1969
NFL Statistical Championships
Interception Titles: 1974
AFC Statistical Championships
Interception Titles: 1974
Team Statistical Championships
Interception Titles: 1969, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975
Full Name: Emmitt Earl Thomas
Birthdate: June 3, 1943
Birthplace: Angleton, Texas
High School: Marshall (Angleton, TX)
Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame: February 2, 2008
Presenter: DerekThomas, Emmitt’s son
Other members of the Class fo 2008: Fred Dean, Darrell Green, Andre Tippett, Gary Zimmerman
Pro Career: 13 seasons, 181 games