Emmitt Thomas Kansas City Chiefs
"I could get the football. I had great ball skills and speed.”
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.