Thomas' induction is special in Kansas City

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The memory of Derrick Thomas lives vibrantly in Kansas City.

The induction of Thomas into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday will be a major celebration for both the Chiefs and Kansas City. Thomas is one of the most revered sports figures in Kansas City's history.

I am always struck by the number of fans who still wear Thomas' No. 58 jersey at Arrowhead Stadium. You'd think Thomas was still terrorizing quarterbacks on Sundays by the look of all those jerseys in the stands.

Yet, Thomas hasn't played in Kansas City since the 1999 season. He died in early 2000 after suffering injuries in an auto accident.

Now, though, nine years later, Thomas' life is being celebrated by his induction.

Frankly, it's probably five years overdue.

Thomas was a dominant player. He was the rare player who could take over games. He was one of the great sack masters in NFL history. He had 126.5 sacks in 11 NFL seasons.

Thomas, who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 1989 draft, set an NFL record by registering seven sacks in a game against Seattle in 1990. The nine-time Pro Bowl player had 20 sacks in 1990. He will be honored at the ceremony by former Kansas City general manager Carl Peterson.

The playmaker record a team record 45 fumbles and he recovered 19 fumbles in his career and returned four fumbles for touchdowns. Thomas was on the NFL's all-decade team for the 1990s.

He was a true headache for opposing offensive coordinators. Thomas had to be accounted for. If not, the Chiefs were probably going to win. They won often with Thomas on the field. Kansas City won 102 games in the 1990s, the third most in the NFL.

Kansas City has great memories of Thomas. Saturday, those memories will be validated with the greatest honor for a superstar who will never be forgotten in Kansas City.