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February 09, 2000 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-02-09

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14 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 9, 2000
Denick Thomas
dead at age 33

Pete Rose left out of*"
'75 Series celebration

MIAMI (AP)- Derrick Thomas, one
of the most feared defenders in the NFL
and a nine-time Pro Bowl player, died
yesterday, less than a month after being
paralyzed in a car crash on an icy road.
He was 33.
Thomas was being transferred from
his hospital bed to a wheelchair on his
way to therapy when he uttered some-
thing to his mother and his eyes rolled
back, said Dr. Frank Eismont, a neuro-
surgeon at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
"We-were hoping that Derrick's story
would have been a happier ending," he
said. "This is very much unexpected"
The Kansas City Chiefs linebacker,
who held the NFL record of seven sacks
in a game, went into cardio-respiratory
arrest, he said.
'Doctors have not determined an exact
cause of death and might perform an
autopsy. One of Thomas' doctors, Dr.
arth'Green, said a massive blood clot
probably killed Thomas.
"This is a total shock," Green said.
"Derrick was an extraordinary person
and was breaking all the records while he
was here."
A shaken Chiefs coach Gunther
Cunningham recalled telephoning
Thomas at the Miami hospital from the
Pro Bowl on Sunday in Hawaii; after
seeing players and fans honoring
Thomas by wearing his number. Thomas
had' not been selected for this year's
"Derrick said, 'Coach, be strong' He
never told me how strong I needed to
be," Cunningham said.
After a game, Thomas would always

walk across the field "with a smile on his
face," the coach said.
"Not because the Chiefs won, but
because that's the way he was. And that's
the way I'll always remember him."
Flags were lowered to half staff at
Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, and
the Missouri Legislature paused for a
moment of silence after Thomas' death
was announced by state Sen. Bill
Kenney, a former Chiefs quarterback.
"Derrick Thomas was a true hero,"
said Kenney, who urged lawmakers to
support a bill for spinal cord research in
Thomas was driving a car during a
snowstorm on Jan. 23 as he and two
friends headed to the Kansas City airport
to fly to St. Louis for the NFC
Championship game. He lost control of
the car and it overturned at least three
times, police said,
Police said Thomas was speeding and
weaving in traffic, but prosecutor Don
Norris said there wasn't enough evi-
dence to file charges.
Thomas and passenger Michael Tellis,
were not wearing seat belts and were
thrown from the car.
Tellis was killed and Thomas' spine
and neck were broken. The third person
in the car, who was wearing his seat belt,
sustained only minor injuries.
Thomas was brought to the hospital in
Miami, his hometown, where doctors
stabilized his spinal column with screws,
rods and hooks and1 grafted bone from
his hip. Though he was paralyzed from
the chest down, doctors had hoped he
would walk again.

Derrick Thomas was an AlIPro in his first nine seasons and ranks ninth in all-time sacks.

played on the Cincinnati Reds' 1975
World Series championship team, but
he cannot participate in the Reds' 25-
year remembrance of that team this
season, baseball commissioner Bud
Selig said.
Rose's appearance with other mem-
bers of baseball's All-Century team
during the World Series in October
1999 raised hopes that he might be
allowed to appear at Cinergy Field on
June 3 with other members of the
1975 Reds team that beat the Boston
Red Sox in the Series. But he cannot,
Selig said Monday.
"Obviously, this is a very sensitive
subject, and a very misunderstood
one," Selig told The Ci'ncinnati
Enquirer. "But as things stand, there's
been no change.
"I did make an exception for the
all-century team because fans were
voting and I didn't want to do any-
thing to stop that. But we said it was
a one-time thing," Selig said.
Rose was voted the most valuable
player in Cincinnati's 1975 defeat of
Boston, four games to three. He was
given a lifetime ban from baseball in
1989 because of gambling. He has
asked baseball to consider lifting that
The Reds plan to observe the 25th
anniversary of their 1975 champi-
onship on June 3, prior to a night
interleague game against the
Minnesota Twins.
If Rose - a Cincinnati native who
now lives in south Florida - wants to
attend, his option would be to sit in

the Cinergy Field stands with other
Rose was not available yesterday at
his Boca Raton, Fla., restaurant when
called for a response. Warren Gree*
a Rose spokesman in Fort
Lauderdale, Fla., did not return a call
to his office.
John Allen, the Reds' chief operat-
ing officer, said he hopes that Rose's
absence from the June ceremony does
not overshadow the presence of the
1975 team members who do partici-
"We're going to abide by major
league baseball's rules," Allen said. "I
know it's a sensitive issue, and I kno*
that there are pro-Pete Rose fans out
there. In Cincinnati, there are a lot
more because he's a real hometown
"But we didn't suspend him, and
we can't unsuspend him," Allen said.
Selig said his office had received
sonic informal inquiries from the
Reds about Rose and the June cere-
Rose left Cincinnati fc
Philadelphia after the 1978 season
and helped the Phillies win the 1980
World Series. The Phillies plan to
honor that team June 15-17 at
Veterans Stadium.
"Sometime, we will approach the
commissioner's office," Phillies
spokesman Larry Shenk said.
"But it's on the back burner right
now. Pete wasn't permitted (to partic-
ipate) in 1990 when we had the 1
year reunion. I guess he can buy V

Jackson Memorial is the home of the
Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the
world's largest spinal cord injury
research center, and its surgeons have
operated on injured athletes before,
including race car driver Emerson
An All-American at Alabama, the 6-
foot-3, 255-pound Thomas became an
immediate star as a pass-rushing special-
ist after being taken in the first round of
the 1989 draft.
With one of the quickest first moves
of any defender in the league, Thomas
became known for his "sack and strip"
move, where he closed fast on a quarter-
back's blind side and hacked at his arm
to knock the ball out of his hand.

He set the single-game sack record in
1990 in a game against Seattle. That
game was the same week as Veterans
Day and Thomas dedicated his perfor-
mance to his father, an Air Force pilot
killed in Vietnam.
Thomas also made headlines in 1998
when he lost his temper during a
Monday night game against Denver and
committed three personal foul penalties
in the Broncos' final touchdown drive.
He was fined and suspended for one
game and apologized to the Broncos and
his fans.
Former Kansas City Chiefs coach
Marty Schottenheimer visited his former
player on Monday "and he was doing
quite well. His spirits were very high."

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