As we approach Derrick Thomas’ induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, media and fans alike have been praising the former Chiefs great. As Randy Covitz writes today, not everyone thinks it’s appropriate.
E-mails and voice mails in response to the start of our coverage of Derrick Thomas’ upcoming induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame have not been positive. In fact, they are running about 3 to 1 in criticizing DT’s personal life and arguing against his enshrinement.
It’s no secret Derrick had some issues. He had seven children out of wedlock with five women, something that has been well-documented. And, yes, Derrick did not leave a will, and his affairs were a mess upon his untimely death.
But understand this: We are celebrating Derrick Thomas’ career and induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his abilities as a football player. The Hall of Fame – just like baseball’s shrine and those of other sports – elect its players based on what they did on the field of play. Personal behavior is not part of the equation.
I figured this might have to be addressed at some point. Even here at our small little site here, there have been more than a few people that have expressed their distaste for my endless praise of Thomas. While it’s hard to argue with their points about DT’s issues in his personal life, they don’t seem to want to talk about the other part of his life off the field, which was dedicated to charity and community service. With that being said, I have to disagree with Covitz that players are elected simply for what they did on the field. There have been plenty of players left out of their respective sports’ Hall of Fame because of their life away from the game, but most of those are gambling related.
Derrick Thomas was one of the greatest players to ever play linebacker in the NFL. He also was involved with countless charities and community organizations when he wasn’t in between the lines. And, yes, he had issues in his personal life. But who doesn’t? He didn’t cheat or gamble on the game he loved. He was human. Something we unfortunately found out far too early.
We all know about the coaches that will be working under Todd Haley this season. But what about the other coaches that have bouncing around camp? Bob Gretz took a look at the four coaching interns that will be camping with the Chiefs.
Anthony Pleasant – A former DE/OLB who played 14 seasons in the NFL with the Browns, Ravens, Falcons, Jets, 49ers and Patriots, where he won a pair of Super Bowl rings. He appeared in 202 games with 58 career sacks.
Richie Anderson – A former NFL fullback who made the 2001 Pro Bowl while playing with the New York Jets. He also played for the Dallas Cowboys. He retired after 12 seasons in the NFL with 318 carries for 1,274 yards and four touchdowns. Anderson also caught 397 passes for 3,149 yards and 14 TDs.
Jamar Cain – Member of the coaching staff at Cal Poly where he handles the defensive line. He spent the previous three seasons working on Terry Allen’s staff at Missouri State.
Chip Taylor – Member of the coaching staff at Valparaiso where he handles the defensive backs. He did a training camp internship last summer with the Arizona Cardinals.
Haley has talked a little bit about how important it is to have Pleasant around the players as they adjust to the 3-4. I could see him scoring a position with the team throughout the season if he continues to impress the coaches with his knowledge of the new scheme. Another name to keep an eye on here is Taylor. This is his second training camp internship with Haley, who can clearly understand how much work it takes to climb up the coaching ladder and might look to help Taylor out along the way.
There are still plenty of young players that will contribute — if not start — for the Chiefs this season, but one of the most influential players could be one of the oldest.
It’s early in camp, but Cassel seems to have found a rhythm with Bobby Engram, the slot receiver when the Chiefs use a three-receiver formation. Cassel found Engram on a short crossing route in practice Sunday, and Engram turned it into a long gain. The veteran has been impressed with the Chiefs new quarterback.
“Right now he’s been spot-on. One thing I like about him is his mentality. He’s got that short memory. If he throws an incomplete ball or an interception, he’s right back throwing it with just as much confidence on the next ball. Not every quarterback has that, but the great ones do.”
Haley has still declined to declare publicly that Cassel is the starter, but the new contract erased any doubt. Cassel has taken all of the first-team snaps at camp, and Tyler Thigpen has conceded his job is now to be the best reserve quarterback he can be.
When we were talking about Engram’s potential fantasy impact, I deemed him as potentially one of the best value picks in the league. And his fantasy impact will obviously be felt on the real field as well. Cassel will need a safety valve and without Tony Gonzalez around and the current options at TE yet to impress, Engram is the perfect player to fit that role. I had predicted a 64-80 catch season for Engram, so even if you meet in the middle that’s 72 catches. If he can stay healthy, Cassel-to-Engram is something you are going to hear a lot of this season.