KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It’s not often grown men cry in public, but emotions flowed on Wednesday night during the special screening of “Derrick Thomas: A Football Life” at Arrowhead Stadium.
A glance around the audience when the lights came on reflected men and women wiping damp eyes.
No. 58 meant a lot to his teammates, his coaching staff, his fans and Kansas City.
The one-hour documentary produced by NFL Films proved powerful and brought back memories of Thomas during his glorious playing days.
It featured anecdotes from Carl Peterson, who spoke before the screening, Marty Schottenheimer, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Gunther Cunningham, Neil Smith, Bob Gretz, Al Wallace and Jason Whitlock, among others.
Still, arguably the best and most touching segments were the behind-the-scenes look at Thomas’ family, his love of the military and his charitable nature.
His willingness to help others was best captured by longtime friend Kevin Regan, who spoke before the screening and told the audeience:
“While it took Derrick two ballots to get in the Hall of Fame, I’m certain that Derrick got into God’s Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
I believe football gave Derrick his platform to do his charity, but I truly believe God doesn’t pay a lot of attention to how many football games you win down here.
He pays attention to how did you treat your neighbor.
Let me give you some statistics about Derrick that nobody really truly knows about.
Derrick taught more kids how to read than he had sacks.
Derrick fed more hungry people in his years on this Earth than he had tackles.
Derrick opened the doors of literacy to our inner city children more often than he had downs played in the NFL or back at Alabama.”
Wednesday night was truly ‘Derrick Thomas: A Football Life” and viewers don’t have to be just a Chiefs fan to enjoy.
The documentary premieres nationally on The NFL Network at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Sept. 24.