I'm not sure many of you know this but in the last few years Sports Illustrated has moved every article ever written for the magazine into the SI Vault. You can go back and search the archives for all kinds of games, teams and players.
So, I did the Derrick Thomas search and gathered some of the stories.
Let me tell you - this is a blast to the past. The money quote came from a 1996 article:
"He just gave me this look, and I thought, Al, I don't need to speak to your ass. We haven't spoken since."
Yep, that's the Al you think it is.
Lots of links and quotes after the jump.
Sports Illustrated - September 16th, 1996
Thomas, a Raiders fan growing up, developed animosity for Raiders owner Al Davis after the Chiefs' 13-3 victory at Arrowhead two years ago. Recalls Thomas, "Before the game, he said what he always used to say to me, 'Derrick, you know you want to be a Raider,' and we laughed. Then after the game, I was standing in the tunnel and Al came by, so I called out to him. He just gave me this look, and I thought, Al, I don't need to speak to your ass. We haven't spoken since."
Sports Illustrated - November 16th, 1996
In the previous four games Smith and Thomas, a pair of perennial Pro Bowl players, had been able to muster but a single sack apiece. To neutralize them, teams had been sending out five receivers on passing downs and getting rid of the ball, according to Schottenheimer, "in 2.4, 2.5 seconds."
"But we've made an adjustment," Chiefs linebacker coach John Bunting had said two days before the game against Green Bay. "You're going to see a lot of Derrick Thomas on Sunday." Kansas City unleashed a fresh batch of blitzes, which succeeded in sowing confusion among the Packers' linemen. In addition to forcing one fumble and recovering another, Thomas sacked Favre twice.
Sports Illustrated - September 21st, 1998
The sack has become such a devastating weapon that last week, in preparation for a game against the Chiefs and their speed-rushing sack artist Derrick Thomas, the Jaguars alternated a defensive end and a wide receiver across the line from left tackle Tony Boselli to simulate Thomas's strength and quickness. Thomas was coming off a six-sack destruction of the Raiders in Week 1, and when the Chiefs arrived at their Jacksonville hotel last Saturday, adoring fans gave him a reception worthy of a rock star.
Sports Illustrated - January 31st, 2000
Thomas's star had begun to fade a bit in recent years, but if an offensive lineman didn't bring his A game, Thomas would still make him pay. Raiders left tackle Pat Harlow found that out in the 1998 opener at Arrowhead, in which Thomas turned quarterback Jeff George's afternoon into a nightmare. When insiders began to talk about Titans rookie pass-rush phenom Jevon Kearse, one name kept coming up as the standard of comparison: Thomas.
Sports Illustrated - February 8th, 2000
Meanwhile, Derrick was wreaking havoc on the football field. After a stellar senior season at South Miami -- he was all-conference as a linebacker -- he signed with Alabama. In his sophomore year of college he played behind All-America outside linebacker Cornelius Bennett, now with the Atlanta Falcons, who set a school single-season record with 10 sacks. Thomas was told he would never be as good as Bennett, but in 1987, Thomas's junior season, he had 18 sacks. He followed that with an astounding 27 as a senior.
Sports Illustrated - February 21st, 2000
The NFL's social butterfly could also sting like a bee. Two years ago, a few days before his final Pro Bowl appearance, Thomas sat at the poolside bar at the Ihilani Resort and Spa and held court before a group of NFL stars that included Chester McGlockton, the Raiders' enigmatic defensive lineman. "Big Chester," Thomas chirped. "Minimum pay, minimum play. One out of every five snaps, when he feels like it, he can't be blocked." It was a major dis, but Thomas was funny, charming and bold enough to pull it off. Finally, McGlockton startled the group by admitting, "I am a dog." Three months later Big Chester signed with the Chiefs.