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Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

From Canton, Ohio

Derrick should have been there.

There are a lot of emotional moments over the Hall of Fame weekend for those about to take their spot with the other greats of the game.

There’s the Thursday night welcome event. There’s the Nitschke Luncheon on Friday afternoon and the Saturday morning parade through the streets of Canton. And of course, there’s the induction ceremonies themselves on Saturday evening in Fawcett Stadium. There’s the moment when they see the Hall of Fame murals like the one to the left.

But over the years I’ve seen enough of these weekends and talked with plenty of Hall of Famers to say maybe the most emotional moment comes with the Friday night dinner held at the Canton Civic Center. It’s a banquet to honor the Hall, those men in it, and those who are about to join.

And it was at last night’s dinner where Derrick Thomas was sorely missed. His son Derrion filled in for his father, but nobody, nobody would have enjoyed the pageantry of the evening more than D.T.

The Civic Center is about the size of a large high school gymnasium, with a stage on one end and meeting rooms in the building and across the street in an annex. Some 4,000 people were stuffed into every nook and cranny for this affair.

Inside the arena was where the program was held. There were the usual banquet items like the national anthem, an invocation, a speech from the Mayor of Canton, a speech from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, etc.

There were two parts of the program that Derrick would have loved. First, was the introduction of returning members of the Hall. It was a parade of living history that sent chills down the spine of any true football fan. From Bullet Bill Dudley and Joe “The Jet” Perry to Michael Irvin and Darrell Green, more than 50 Hall of Famers were introduced and walked to a stage where they congratulated the incoming class of Randall McDaniel, Bruce, Smith, Rod Woodson, Ralph Wilson and representing their late fathers, Bob Hayes Jr. and Derrion Thomas.

Usually, the Hall of Famers are introduced one at a time, with an appropriate buffer between each one. Not this year with the returning Chiefs. Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, Emmitt Thomas, Len Dawson and Jan Stenerud hit the stage as one to congratulate the newest Hall of Famers. It was a show of solidarity that said a lot about the men and their togetherness.

The crowning moment comes at the end of the evening, when the incoming Hall of Famers are presented with their gold jackets. You’ve seen them over the years at Hall of Fame induction ceremonies wearing these bright jackets. Some people don’t like the mustard color and others think the whole premise is outdated.

But don’t tell that to Bruce Smith, Randall McDaniel and Rod Woodson. The looks on their faces Friday night as they donned the gold jackets for the first time was priceless. Others have said over the years that it’s the moment when they realized that it’s really true, that they are soon to be Hall of Famers.

Derrick should have been there. Over the years he wore many different colored suits, all tailored specifically for him and his frame. Most of those suits were expensive.

But none would have fit him better than the gold jacket that says “I’m a Hall of Famer.”

NOTES FROM THE EVENING

The Hunt Family turned out in a big way for the evening and for Saturday morning’s opening of the Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery at the Hall of Fame. Norma Hunt was there, along with Lamar Jr. and his wife Rita and several children and Lamar Hunt’s first great-grandchild. Sharron and David Munson were there with two of their children. Clark and Tavia Hunt were in the room, along with Dan Hunt.

There were a lot of Kansas City faces in the Civic Center led by Carl Peterson, who will present Thomas for induction Saturday evening. Lori Peterson was also there, along with Dr. and Mrs. Jon Browne, Mr. and Mrs. Steve Palermo, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Garozzo, Chiefs President Denny Thum and his wife Carmen, Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Stiles and Chiefs PR director Bob Moore.

Other faces in the crowd included former Chiefs DE Neil Smith, TE Derrick Walker and QB Todd Blackledge, who lives in Canton and is a member of the Hall of Fame’s board of directors. Also spotted was former Chiefs head coach Paul Wiggin and his wife Carolyn, who were there from Minneapolis to honor McDaniel. Former super agent Leigh Steinberg was in the house as well; he was DT’s agent.

Sports Illustrated pro football writer Peter King was honored with the Dick McCann Award given each year by the Pro Football Writers Association for meritorious service. Former CBS broadcaster Irv Cross received the Pete Rozelle Award which goes to radio and TV broadcasters.

KUDOS TO TYSON JACKSON

As the Chiefs went through their second practice of the day on Friday who was on the field but No. 94, first-round draft choice Tyson Jackson.

Give the kid credit; after his contract got worked out, he got his butt to Wisconsin pronto. He showed up, passed his conditioning test and took part in the afternoon practice.

Whether he’ll take part in Saturday’s intra-squad scrimmage remains unknown; I would guess he would probably get a play or two.

NOT SINGING IN THE RAIN, BUT CHIEFS PRACTICE IN THE RAIN

The first bad weather day hit River Falls on Friday, but that didn’t stop Todd Haley from running his team through an outdoors practice in the morning.

For Haley, the wet and soggy conditions were actually welcome, forcing his team to deal with bad conditions. Observers say he cut the players no slack despite the wet field and wet football.

“We might have to win a game in those conditions that means a lot to this team,” Haley said in his post-practice press conference. “Who knows what it is down the road? They aren’t going to cancel a game, they aren’t going to cancel the season. We have got to protect the football no matter what the circumstances are.”

SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

BILLS – released DE Ataefiok Etukeren (bless you!)

BRONCOS – agreed to terms with first-round draft choice Knowshon Moreno.

BROWNS – G Rex Hadnot suffered a torn ACL and is likely out for the season.

COLTS – offensive line coach Howard Mudd said this would be his last season in coaching. Mudd has been coaching in the NFL for 36 years.

DOLPHINS – S Ethan Kilmer left the team.

49ERS – WR Brandon Jones will miss at least eight weeks with fractured shoulder; signed WR Chris Francies; released DL Babatunde Oshinowo.

LIONS – placed OL Damion Cook on the injured-reserve list with a triceps injury; signed WR Bobby Sippio.

PANTHERS – signed LB Kelvin Smith; released LS Nick Sundburg.

STEELERS – RG Darnell Stapleton underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee and may be done for the season.

FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY

On August 8, 1970 the Chiefs beat the Detroit Lions 30-17 in a pre-season game at Tigers Stadium. The Chiefs defense returned three interceptions for TDs with CB Jim Marsalis taking one back 32 yards, DE Jerry Mays went 33 yards and CB Emmitt Thomas went 42 yards. The defense also got points on an Aaron Brown safety. The Chiefs added a 20-yard TD pass from QB Len Dawson to WR Otis Taylor.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

Born August 8, 1956 in Sumter, South Carolina was CB Paul Dombroski. He joined the Chiefs in 1980 and played two seasons with the team (1980-81), appearing in 21 games with one interception during the’80 season. Dombroski played six seasons in the NFL, including time with New England and Tampa Bay.

Born on August 8, 1975 in Jacksonville was OT Chris Terry. He played eight seasons in the NFL, joining the Chiefs in 2006 and playing in 18 games over two seasons (2006-07) with eight starts at right tackle. Terry also played for Carolina and Seattle.


18 Responses to “Saturday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • August 8, 2009  - Rip 'em a new one says:

    The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is the ONLY such awards event I ever watch and in this case, it’s the one I never miss either. This year, of course, will be even more special because of DT going in but even now, it’s bittersweet because he won’t be there in person.

    Still, the stories, the past achievement highlighted on the screen and the pure raw emotion of the moment make for must-see TV this year or any other.

    Congrats to the great #58 of the Chiefs. I already know my eyes won’t be dry when DT gets the nod and officially enters the Hall.


  • August 8, 2009  - Scott says:

    Dan,

    From Bob’s article – August 1st (in the archive):

    “Just about every coach Thomas had during his 11 seasons with the Chiefs will attend.

    That includes Marty Schottenheimer, Kurt Schottenheimer, Dave Adolph, Woody Lowe and yes, Gunther Cunningham. Only those who know Gunther know how remarkable it is that he’s leaving the Detroit Lions training camp to attend the induction in Canton.

    Right now the only man who coached Derrick who hasn’t committed is Bill Cowher and he’s trying to change his schedule so he can make an appearance there.”


  • August 8, 2009  - NJChiefsFan says:

    Bob,

    Thanks for your work to help get #58 into the HoF! Be sure to enjoy it as much as is possible. A unique opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of a unique man.


  • August 8, 2009  - Don in Wichita says:

    DT….always in our hearts, always in our minds….A special person.


  • August 8, 2009  - Damon, from Baltimore says says:

    I love it coach Haley is not cutting them any slack, this team should play like grown men on Sunday’s and not like a high school.


  • August 8, 2009  - Damon, from Baltimore says says:

    I love it coach Haley is not cutting them any slack, this team should play like grown men on Sunday’s and not like a high school team.


  • August 8, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    What a great great day. August 8. It will always be remembered by Chiefs fans…let us never forget it.
    As great as the Championship was January 1970, this later memory too ranks right up there -

    August 8: Chiefs 30 Lions 17

    When it was a game… :cool: daddy-o


  • August 8, 2009  - Johnfromfairfax says:

    Enjoy the day and weekend Bob. We’re all vicariously with you. It will be great to see Derrick where he belongs when we visit the Hall.


  • August 8, 2009  - ED says:

    I’m glad to see after 3years my boy DT finally getting his due. Hopefully all the old coaches would be there. Truly DT was one of the best LB to play the game.


  • August 8, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Derrick who?

    Rin isn’t vicariously there John – it’s August 8, 1970 at my house & Marsalis just ran an INT back for a Kansas City TD…

    :cool: daddy-o


  • August 8, 2009  - jimbo says:

    Bob,
    I’m sure you will be pinching yourself many times today & riding an emotional rollercoaster. I also know that today will be your day to absorb the magic & inspiration that defined D.T.

    Have a great day Mr. Gretz. Thanks for all your determination, fortitude & hard work on the Derrick Thomas Hall of Fame selection & subsequent induction.


  • August 8, 2009  - alex k says:

    congrats to DT, his family, congrats to Bob, who we all know spoke on DT’s behalf year after year.


  • August 8, 2009  - Kevin says:

    For the mural picture, i think the black bands around the elbows are perfect, but i would have had the picture of him in the process of tomahawk-slapping the ball from Elway or with his giving his signature Safety sign in the end zone.


  • August 8, 2009  - Chiefs News from the Overnight 8/8 says:

    [...] Saturday Cup O’Chiefs from Bob Gretz [...]


  • August 8, 2009  - And it was at last night’s dinner where Derrick Thomas was sorely missed. His son Derrion filled in … says:

    [...] Chiefs News Chiefs Update | Chiefs Football at BobGretz.com [...]




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