In life, Thomas was omnipresent in Kansas City. The nine-time Pro Bowler's charitable work was recognized by the NFL in 1993, when he won the league's Man of the Year award.
Thomas' impact was so far-reaching that Lucy Franklin Elementary School, in Blue Springs, announced his death over the loudspeakers that morning.
"Something about him was just special," said Hansen, the fan with the No. 58 jersey framed on his basement wall.
In coat closets, basements and memories across the Midwest, Thomas legacy lingers on ... and probably always will.
NFL.com Video: A Football Life: Derrick Thomas
NFL.com Video: A Football Life Extra: Derrick Thomas
Even Rare 4-0 Start Would Assure Nothing For Chiefs from KC Star
But the two 4-0 starts in Chiefs history are a useful reminder that this early season is all very nice and encouraging and exciting, especially after the misery of going 2-14 last season, but that what it actually means in the great scheme of things won't be known for months yet.
One of those 4-0 teams, the 2003 Chiefs, actually started 9-0 on its way to going 13-3 and losing to the Colts in the playoffs.
But the 1996 Chiefs frittered away their 4-0 opening burst and won only five of their next 12 to finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs.
That history lesson apparently isn't necessary for these Chiefs, who for starters make no assumptions even about the Giants.
2013 Chiefs: Here's What We've Learned from The Mothership
After three weeks of the 2013 season, how would you describe the Kansas City Chiefs?
What have you learned from the team, approaching Sunday's matchup with another NFC East opponent, the New York Giants?
Following Monday's practice, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid addressed the media, describing what he's learned about his team, after its early 3-0 start.
Chiefs Receivers Rack Up Yards After Catch from KC Star
Not even President Obama could resist taking a shot at the Chiefs offense when he was in Kansas City last week.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith completed just one pass that traveled more than 10 yards in last Thursday's win at Philadelphia, prompting the nation's first fan to brag that his beloved Chicago Bears "are actually able to pass more than 10 yards."
But Obama missed the point.
Smith may have not thrown it deep, but he averaged 12.4 yards per completion against the Eagles, largely because of one of the most important facets of the Chiefs' high-percentage passing game: Yards after the catch. Or YAC.
Overheard: Improving from The Mothership
Derrick Johnsonon the Chiefs starting the season 3-0:
"It's great. We play this game to win and when you get the results on Sundays or Thursdays, you feel pretty good during the week. Your wounds don't hurt as much, everybody has a good attitude and you're building more confidence for the next game."
Before his ankle injury, Johnson was competing with free agent Akeem Jordan for the Chiefs' starting inside linebacker position and earning first-team reps alongside starter Derrick Johnson, which led Nico Johnson to believe he had a shot at early season playing time.
"I thought I was," Johnson said.
But whatever playing time he stood to earn has since dried up because of the injury, which kept Johnson out of practice for nearly two weeks.
This year, it appears the NFC East is the soft spot as only Dallas, 2-1, has a winning record, with their loss to the Chiefs. The Eagles, whom the Chiefs beat last week, are 1-2, while Washington and New York are 0-3.
The Giants, fresh off a 38-0 loss at Carolina, visit Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. Here, courtesy the New York Giants' website reporter Michael Eisen, are some notes and stats from their loss at Carolina:
KCChiefs.com Video: Reid: "Make Sure That You Understand Them"
Chiefs Getting Off To Fast Starts This Season from The Associated Press via The Miami Herald
They've started fast in games, taking the lead in the first quarter of each of them, and carrying that advantage into halftime twice. And they've started fast on the season, beating the Jaguars, Cowboys and Eagles to surpass their win total from all of last year.
While that may seem like something to scoff about so early in the season, consider that Kansas City never led a game in regulation until Week 10 a year ago.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid insisted that he'd rather score most than first, but he also said there's value in getting on the board early. It helps build confidence throughout the team, while also allowing players to settle in for the rest of the game.
Brandon Flowers Day To Day from ESPN
"It's a day-to-day thing,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "It's just a matter of him getting through it. He's trying. The kid is so stinking tough. We want to make sure it's right and he can function out there at the speed he functions at. He plays that position where you've got to go. You're going against guys that can really go.
NFL News: Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, And Tennessee Titans True AFC Playoff Contenders In 2013 from The International Business Times
Kansas City's defense is good enough to keep them in almost every game. They didn't allow the Jacksonville Jaguars offense to score in Week One and held the Philadelphia Eagles, who had previously scored 63 points in their first two games, to just 16 points in Week Three. Third-year linebacker Justin Houston has made the biggest impact, leading the league with 7.5 sacks.
The biggest difference with the Chiefs, though, has been Alex Smith. In 2012, Kansas City had the worst combination of quarterbacks in the NFL. Smith hasn't made many big plays, but new head coach Andy Reid has utilized the 29-year-old's strengths and put him in a position to lead a much improved offense.
Between blocked kicks and fumbled kickoff returns, the Kansas City Chiefs have had some rough moments on special teams this season. But they deserve credit for making an underrated play in last week's 26-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the first quarter, when the Chiefs successfully smothered the Eagles' attempt for a two-point conversion.
89.3% of capacity doesn't seem horrendous, but when compared to the Chiefs history it really is a significant drop off. Between 1993 and 2008, the Chiefs sold at least 95% of their ticket inventory.
Unfortunately, it's been below 90% of capacity in 6 of the last 7 years. With only 3 playoff appearances in the last 15 years, with 20 years gone by since winning a playoff game with a quarterback named Montana, and with 6 losing seasons out of the last 7 (4 of which resulting in 4 or fewer wins), it's hard to find fault with even the most ardent Chiefs supporter who may have lost faith in the organization.
Watching The Standings... In September! from ESPN
No matter what happens in Denver Monday night, the Chiefs suddenly have the look of a team with staying power, at least for the next several weeks. Four of Kansas City's next five games will be played at Arrowhead Stadium, starting with Sunday's game against the 0-3 New York Giants. The Giants will play better than they did in losing to Carolina, but look for the Chiefs to move to 4-0 for the first time since 2003.
Stumbled across a statistic that was most surprising given the state of the Kansas City Chiefs' passing attack: The Chiefs have more pass plays (nine) of 20 or more yards than their opponents (eight).
Difficult to believe given all of the Tony Romo-to-Dez Bryant and Michael Vick-to-Jason Avant bombs that have rained down on the Chiefs. Even more difficult to believe given that the Chiefs have featured short passes almost exclusively.
But there it is, in black and white.
Giants' Fix Must Be Found In The Locker Room from USA Today
Somewhere Alex Smith is smiling. (Oh, yes, he is). Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs are 3-0, and Colin Kaepernick -- the guy who ran Smith out of town -- is looking quite human after consecutive losses to the Seahawks and Colts. Kaepernick's biceps haven't been getting much lovin'. In those two defeats, Kaepernick has completed 26 of 55 passes for 277 yards, zero TDs and four interceptions -- while also losing two fumbles.
Ansah Stars For Detroit In Week 3 Of NFL Season from KSL.com
The Kansas City Chiefs have also been a positive surprise, and in so small part due to Alex Smith. The former Utes quarterback completed 22 of 35 passes, throwing for 273 yards and rushing for 32 yards in the Chiefs' 26-16 victory over Philadelphia. Fellow Utah alumnus Sean Smith also registered four tackles for Kansas City.
Andy Reid Unanimously Approved By Chiefs Fans from CBS Philly
Andy Reid is 3-0 as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, and after the team won just two games all of last season, it's fair to say that Chiefs fans like the job Andy Reid is doing.
Arrowhead Pride, a Chiefs blog, has taken a monthly approval rating of Reid since he was hired in January. The poll opened up with an 89% approval rating in January, and the current poll for September is at 100% (as of 8:07am on Monday).
Altitude Could Affect Eagles' O from The Vineland Daily Journal
That was evident during the spring when the Eagles began implementing the uptempo offense without huddling - and the training regimen that goes with it. Still, there have been instances in the first three games where the defense, especially, has seemed tired.
That might have happened in the Eagles' 26-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday when the defense allowed a game-clinching 15-play drive that used up 8 minutes, 15 seconds of the fourth quarter.
How To Salvage Your Fantasy-Football Season from The Wall Street Journal
You can start by unloading your current defense and picking up Kansas City's, owned in just 33% of Yahoo Sports leagues despite racking up more fantasy points than all but 13 players, including such fantasy luminaries as Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Commentary: Derrick Thomas Not Being In College Football Hall OF Fame A Head Scratcher from The Montgomery Advertiser
The late Derrick Thomas should be in the College Football Hall of Fame. Period.
As a senior at Alabama in 1988, Thomas posted an NCAA single-season record 27 sacks, a feat his college coach so candidly summarized in the one-hour documentary, "Derrick Thomas: A Football Life," that premieres at 8 tonight on NFL Network.
"This is not a misprint," Bill Curry said. "It's real."
Only two minutes and change of the film are dedicated to Thomas' college career. It's unfortunate, but understandable.
Kick Returner Jeremy Ross Dropped By Packers from The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
For now, McCarthy will live with his decision, referencing a bit of advice from former Kansas City Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer.
"A real smart coach told me this once, at a young age, there's two types of guys who call plays," McCarthy said. "There's guys who second-guess themselves and there's guys that lie about second-guessing themselves."
How Do Baldwin, James Fit Into 49ers' Offense? from CSN Bay Area
With the 49ers' offense struggling, Baldwin and James have not been able to provide any assistance. Baldwin, acquired in a trade from the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 19 for A.J. Jenkins, has been inactive for the first three games.
All-22: Examining Michael Vick's Issues from Philadelphia Magazine
What were some of his issues? Let's take a look, starting with his first-quarter interception.
That's the same look/concept they used on the interception against KC.
I still can't believe how bad the 0-3 Giants have played. They have turned it over 13 times. They can't protect Eli Manning. And they just haven't seemed right. Now they have to go to Kansas City to play the unbeaten Chiefs. That won't be easy against that defense, especially the way their line played in 38-0 loss at Carolina, the worst in Tom Coughlin's tenure with the Giants.
Kansas City deserves credit. They have a strong defense that played well in Philadelphia and wanted desperately to get Andy Reid a win against his former team. They also came in with an excellent game plan to slow down Kelly's offense.
One of their primary tactics involved their standout outside linebackers, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Rather than have them rush straight upfield, the Chiefs had them start wider and delay their rush.
Victor Cruz: 'Everything Went Wrong' for N.Y. Giants from NFL.com
This squad is incapable of stopping opponents from rolling up yardage and points. The once fearsome pass rush is a ghost. Teams are feasting on Big Blue, which now saddles up for the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4. We wouldn't have blinked if the Chiefs were 0-3 and the Giants 3-0 in late September, but it's the other way 'round.
And that's one of the early surprises of this young season.
Mortifying Shutout Highlights Giants' Many Flaws from NBC New York
The Giants need a better plan for next Sunday's game at Kansas City. The Chiefs too have an excellent pass rush, and their secondary is significantly better than Carolina's.
After Sunday's loss, Manning spoke of the importance of countering a strong pass rush.
"We knew they had a good defensive line, and they had guys who could get to the quarterback and get some pressure, and obviously they did a good job," Manning said, according to the club. "So we have to find ways to slow down the pass rush, whether that is running the ball with screens or getting the ball out quicker. They won the physical battle today."
Long List In Blame Game For Giants' Awful Start from The NY Post
Is co-owner John Mara going to barge into the team facility on Monday and fire someone? That's not his way. With whom would he start? Where would he end? After all, he still needs 53 players and a coaching staff for Sunday's game against the Chiefs in Kansas City. The Giants usually try to ride out the storm, but this one may be too damaging to go with the patient approach.
Here's a rundown of the greatest offenders:
NFL Blue Bloods Have The Blues At 0-3 from The NY Post
The 3-0 Chiefs are for real. Wait until David Baas and the interior of the Giants offensive line tries to move Dontari Poe and keep Justin Houston (7.5 sacks) and Tamba Hali off Eli Manning. Stability at head coach (Andy Reid) and quarterback now (Alex Smith) means everything.
Ruling On A Few Rules from Philly.com
If you are that hurt, you should probably take your time getting back in anyway, so the league would come across as acting responsibly, scoring all kinds of brownie points.
This could mean missing one play, two plays, three plays. But if the player is say, as valued a cover guy as Kansas City's Sean Smith, he might think twice about grabbing his calf a full 2 or 3 seconds after the play has ended.
And if he's playing hurt, as the Chiefs' Brandon Flowers was Thursday night? Again, if he is so hurt as to interrupt the game's flow, he should be rested.