Roll Tide To Kansas City
Marty Schottenheimer had been brought in to turn around the Kansas City Chiefs organization that fared poorly throughout much of the 1980s. His first order of business was to draft Thomas, picked fourth over-all by the Chiefs in the 1989 draft. Thomas made an immediate impact, recording ten sacks and fifty-five quarterback pressures. The Associated Press awarded him their Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, and he began a long series of Pro Bowl appearances, as well as winning the Mack Lee Award for best Chiefs Rookie.
Thomas helped usher in a new era for the Kansas City Chiefs. Throughout much of the nineties, the Chiefs were playoff contenders, something fans hadn't seen in a long time. Thomas established a Chiefs record for sacks in only his second season (20), and forced many fumbles, helping turn the Kansas City defense into one of the best in the league. In 1994, his sixth season in the NFL, Thomas would become the Chiefs' all time sack leader with 72.5 sacks.
In his final four seasons, Thomas continued to exhibit the high level of play he was known for, though an injury to his left triceps prior to the 1997 season kept him out for four games. When he returned to the field, he did so with an arm brace, thus limiting his mobility and effectiveness.
Compounding his physical woes were the problems the Chiefs were having as a team. They couldn't seem to coalesce. Coach Schottenheimer seemed to have lost control of his players, and in a 1998 game against the Denver Broncos, Thomas, his frustrations mounting, racked up three penalties in one defensive series, earning him a one-week suspension. At the season's end, when the Chiefs failed to make the playoffs, Schottenheimer retired. Thomas planned to take some time off and then get ready for the next season.