KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs hope to climb the NFL playoff ladder on Saturday, as they meet up with the New England Patriots.
The son of one Chiefs legend is rising in the world of business, using character traits he learned from his well-known dad. His instruction is leading others to satisfy their goals.
Derrion Thomas comes from a family known for hard work and harder tackles. His father, Derrick Thomas, is a bona fide Kansas City legend. Thomas still owns the club record for most quarterback sacks in a career, even though he's been gone for nearly 16 years. Derrion, now 25, was only 9 years old when, in February 2000, the after effects of a bad car crash took his father before his time.
“Arrowhead was kind of a sacred place for me and my dad,” Derrion Thomas told FOX 4 News on Friday. “I used to go to every game with him on Sundays. It was kind of like our thing together.”
Derrion says he couldn't go near Arrowhead for more than 10 years after his father’s passing. There were too many reminders of the grief he felt.
“I saw people in the 58 jerseys and the love they had for my dad. It was almost comforting, and you see the impact he had on Kansas City,” Thomas said.
Derrion was on stage in 2009, when the National Football League welcomed Derrick Thomas into the bosom of the immortals, inducting him into the league’s hall of fame in Canton, Ohio.
Nowadays, Thomas, who played high school football at Blue Springs South, operates 58 Fitness, a Midtown gym that boasts over 80 clients. Thomas says he honors his dad by working as hard as the hall of famer did.
“He wants his clients to have a hard work ethic. He pushes us to make sure we get to our goals we've set. He runs a good business. I think that's important to him,” Julie Spencer, one of Derrion’s clients, said.
Derrick Thomas had eight children in all, and five of them reside here in the metro. Derrion Thomas says his legendary father would be proud of what's happening in Kansas City nowadays, especially with his beloved Kansas City Chiefs. The last time the Chiefs advanced this far in the playoffs, Derrick Thomas was starting at linebacker under Coach Marty Schottenheimer.
“A lot of him lives within me. I learned a lot from him, but I'm kind of building my own path."
And he’s honoring his family's legacy as he chases his own goals.
Derrion Thomas played two years of football at Mizzou as a defensive lineman for coach Gary Pinkel. As for the Chiefs, oddsmakers say they're a five-point underdog in Saturday's game against the Patriots.