They will honor Derrick Thomas on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium during the Chiefs game against the Broncos, retiring his No. 58 jersey.
Denver linebacker Elvis Dumervil just might sneak out of the locker room a bit early at the intermission so he can see the ceremonies.
The NFL’s leading sacker, Dumervil has always had hero, one player he modeled his game after.
“Derrick Thomas, hands down, because of his ability to get the ball out, to force fumbles,” Dumervil said. “Seven sacks in one game; he was relentless, and that’s what I want to be known as, a guy who is non-stop; someone that you have to account for four quarters.
“He was the perfect defensive player. He played with great energy and attitude. That was my guy growing up. He just destroyed people.”
His interest in D.T. goes back to their common hometown: Miami. Dumervil’s Jackson High School is about 14 miles north of Thomas’ South Miami High School. They shared the fact their fathers were military men; Robert Thomas was an Air Force captain and Dumervil’s dad Frank Gachelin served in the Marines.
When Dumervil went to Louisville to play college football, he asked for and wore No. 58.
And now, he is the NFL’s leading sacker with 14, ahead of Minnesota’s Jared Allen (12.3), last year’s defensive player of the year James Harrison (10) of the Steelers, Dwight Freeney of the Colts (9.5), Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware (8), Julius Peppers of Carolina (7.5), Miami’s Joey Porter (7) … all are pass rushers of some renown who trail Dumervil.
One place where Dumervil and D.T. are not the same is size. Thomas had prototypical outside linebacker size, at 6-3, 240 to 245 pounds. Dumervil is 5-11 – maybe – and weighs in around 245 to 250 pounds. He’s not especially fast, as his time coming out of college in the 40-yard dash was in the 4.7-4.8 seconds range. That size and his lack of top-end speed is why he was not drafted until the fourth round in 2006, despite his 20 sacks and 11 forced fumbles as a senior for the Cardinals.
Over his four-season NFL career, Dumervil has 40 sacks in 56 games. Only Ware (6-4, 262 pounds) with 53.5, Allen (6-6, 270) at 50 and Green Bay’s Aaron Kampman (6-4, 245) at 40.5 have more sacks. Add in his 78 high school sacks, 32 sacks at Louisville and he now has 150 sacks, and he’s just 25 years old.
Dumervil is a physical freak, competing at disadvantage of sometimes seven or eight inches and 100 pounds. And he’s doesn’t do his pass rushing just by being faster and running around the tackles. He loves to bull rush them, bending his knees, getting low, using his long arms and gaining leverage to drive them back into the passer.
“I like to bull rush my opponent,” Dumervil said. “I like to use power. My game is not all finesse and speed. It’s a mixture.”
The Chiefs know. He had five sacks during the 2007-08 seasons against the Chiefs. On a sack in the 2007 game at Arrowhead, he hit QB Damon Huard, knocked the ball loose and it was picked up and returned by Broncos LB Nate Webster for a touchdown. Huard was injured on the play and left the game
“You watch him on film and he’s got a tremendous motor,” said Chiefs QB Matt Cassel. “He continues to go 110 percent each and every play. He’s got great balance and great pass rush moves and so people have to deal not only with his quickness but he’s got great leverage on some of those bigger tackles that he deals with, so that bull rush becomes effective.
“He’s done a great job throughout the year of when sacks present themselves, making those plays.”
When rushing the passer, Dumervil relies on the philosophy of D.T.: it’s about more than the sack. He wants to get the quarterback, but more importantly he wants to get the ball. During his NFL career, Thomas forced 45 fumbles in 169 games. Dumervil has forced 10 fumbles in 56 games, including two against the Chiefs and three during the ‘09 season.
“One-on-one pass rush, when you beat that guy, you’ve got to come with that arm and swing,” said Dumervil. “Most people, they get to the quarterback, they’re just happy to get the sack. They’re just excited to be there. But when you’re comfortable (sacking the quarterback), you get an awareness of what is around you and can come under control in that situation. You just swat for the ball.
“A sack and forced fumble is the best thing in football. There’s no bigger thrill than that. There’s no comparison. A sack is by far the greatest feeling, and to get that forced fumble, that’s just icing on the cake.”
There’s no doubt the Chiefs will have to be aware of where Dumervil is any time they want to throw the ball. He made a move similar to Tamba Hali this year, going from defensive end to outside linebacker, as the Broncos went to the 3-4 defense. When Denver goes nickel, Dumervil lines up with his hand on the ground just as he did at defensive end for the previous three seasons.
“He’s special and has a motor that won’t stop,” said Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. “I guess that’s the best way to describe him: a low center of gravity with great leverage and doesn’t quit. Those are the kind of players you’d like to have.”
With the Chiefs, Dumervil will give up six inches and 70 pounds to LT Branden Albert and if he moves over to the other side, he gives up eight inches and 85 pounds to RT Ryan O’Callaghan. That level of physical disadvantage actually becomes an advantage for Dumervil, because it allows him to get low and under the big guy’s center of gravity.
But what really matters is the attitude that Elvis Dumervil shares with his hero.
“I have a passion for sacks,” Dumervil said.
Sounds like No. 58.
SIGNINGS, HONORS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE
- NFL – named Vikings WR Percy Harvin offensive rookie of the month of November and Texans LB Brian Cushing defensive rookie of the month.
- AFC – named Titans RB Chris Johnson offensive player of the month, Colts DE Robert Mathis defensive player of the month and Dolphins WR Ted Ginn special teams player of the month.
- AFC – named Titans QB Vince Young offensive player of the week, Jets CB Darrell Revis defensive player of the week and Broncos K Matt Prather special teams player of the week.
- NFC – named Packers QB Brett Favre offensive player of the month, Packers CB Charles Woodson defensive player of the month and Eagles K David Akers special teams player of the month.
- NFC – named Saints QB Drew Brees offensive player of the week, Packers CB Charles Woodson defensive player of the week and Cardinals returner La Rod Stephens-Howling as special teams player of the week.
- JAGUARS – released DT Derek Landri; promoted DE James Wyche from the practice squad.
- SEAHAWKS – Tim Ruskell is out as general manager in a negotiated resignation; VP of Player Personnel Ruston Webster is serving in the role for now.
FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY
On December 4, 1960, the Dallas Texans beat the Houston Oilers 24-0 before an announced crowd of 20,000 fans at the Cotton Bowl. More on this game later today.
On December 4, 1977, the Chiefs lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-7 in front of 38,488 fans at Arrowhead Stadium. The Bengals dominated the game by running for 220 yards, almost as many offensive yards as the Chiefs had all day (239 yards in total offense.) Double Heisman Trophy winner RB Archie Griffin (right) ran 18 times for 80 yards. Bengals FB Pete Johnson had 13 carries for 63 yards. QB Ken Anderson threw a pair of TD passes to RB James Brooks and TE Pat McInally. The Chiefs only score came on a 47-yard throw from QB Mike Livingston to RB Mark Bailey.
On December 4, 1983, the Chiefs lost to the Buffalo Bills 14-9 in front of 27,104 fans at Arrowhead Stadium. Buffalo RB Joe Cribbs carried 36 times for 185 yards to lead his team to victory. The Chiefs were unable to dent the Bills end zone, getting only three field goals from K Nick Lowery. One of Buffalo’s touchdowns was a 22-yard interception return by S Mike Kennedy, who picked off a pass from Chiefs QB Bill Kenney. The KC defense got an interception from CB Gary Green, while allowing the Bills just 76 passing yards.
On December 4, 1988, the Chiefs beat the New York Jets 38-34 before a crowd of 30,059 at Arrowhead Stadium. It was one of the more amazing fourth-quarter comebacks in franchise history. Down 27-21 going in the final period, the Chiefs outscored the Jets 17-7 in the final 15 minutes, including a one-yard TD run by RB James Saxon (left) as time expired that provided the winning points. The Chiefs started out with a 14-0 lead on a pair of touchdown passes by QB Steve DeBerg: 40 yards to WR Carlos Carson and 41 yards to WR Stephone Paige, who later caught a 33-yard scoring throw as well. Paige finished the game with four catches for 113 yards, while Carson had four balls for 82 yards. A one-yard TD run by RB Christian Okoye set up Saxon’s winning score.
On December 4, 1994, the Chiefs lost in overtime to the Denver Broncos 20-17 before 77,831 fans at Arrowhead Stadium. It was a 34-yard FG by Broncos K Jason Elam (right) in the extra period that gave Denver victory. The Chiefs had sent the game into overtime when QB Steve Bono and WR Willie Davis hooked up on a 62-yard TD in the fourth quarter. They earlier had a one-yard TD run from RB Marcus Allen. WR J.J. Birden caught seven passes for 101 yards. The KC defense sacked Elway five times, including two by DT Joe Phillips.
On December 4, 2000, the Chiefs lost to the New England Patriots 30-24 in a Monday night game at Foxboro Stadium. Two fourth-quarter touchdowns made the score look close, but the Chiefs did not have a chance to win in the second half. QB Elvis Grbac threw three touchdown passes, connecting for 81 yards to WR Derrick Alexander, four yards to TE Tony Gonzalez and 19 yards to WR Kevin Lockett. K Todd Peterson added a 42-yard FG. Grbac hit 25 of 46 passes for 350 yards, as Gonzalez caught 11 passes for 147 yards and Alexander had five receptions for 116 yards. Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe (left) hit 33 of 48 passes for 282 yards.
On December 4, 2005, the Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos 31-27 at Arrowhead Stadium. With 78,261 fans in the stands, the Chiefs trailed into the fourth quarter before RB Larry Johnson found the end zone on a four-yard run for the winning points. This game was tied at 21-21 when the teams went to the locker room at half-time. Johnson had another TD, on a one-yard run, while WR Dante Hall and TE Tony Gonzalez caught scoring passes from QB Trent Green. Johnson ran for 140 yards on 30 carries, while WR Eddie Kennison (right) caught four passes for 108 yards. The KC defense had interceptions from LB Kawika Mitchell and CB Patrick Surtain and sacks from LB Derrick Johnson and DE Eric Hicks.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on December 4, 1980 in Orlando was WR Bobby Sippio (left). He joined the Chiefs in 2007 after brief stops in the NFL and the Arena Football League. Sippio appeared in nine games during the ‘07 season. He returned one kick for six yards. In two pre-seasons (2007-08), he caught seven passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Sippio played this fall in the United Football League, where he played for the Florida Tuskers. He caught one pass for 14 yards.