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Derrick Thomas preferred his jersey especially tight

It’s jersey and mascot week at SB Nation.

Chiefs.com

With it being jersey and mascot week at SB Nation, I thought who better to talk to than friend of the site Mike Davidson, who worked for 22 seasons as the Kansas City Chiefs’ head equipment manager. Davidson retired from his position as the equipment manager in 2011.


There may be no greater player in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs than the late, great Derrick Thomas, who played for 11 seasons before his tragic death at the age of 33 back in 2000.

Thomas’ 126.5 career sacks still stand today as the most sacks in Chiefs franchise history.

Like any other player, Thomas maintained a great relationship with his equipment manager, and during that time, it was Mike Davidson.

In, 1989, Thomas’ rookie season, he compiled 10.0 sacks. But it was in 1990 that Thomas came to Davidson with a special request.

“Derrick, he wanted the least amount of jersey material that could get grabbed,” Davidson recalled. “So in the sleeves, what we tried to do was end the sleeves right at the cap, the cap being the part that hangs down and just covers the upper part of the arm. We really just got that trimmed down to the point where there was nothing that was going to hang over or even have the opportunity to get pulled or tugged.”

Anyone who has watched Thomas play knows the intensity he brought to the game. Thomas offered the perfect combination of power and agility, and that’s what gave opposing offensive lines fits during his career.

“The way Derrick played, he was all about his quickness and his speed, getting around the edge,” Davidson added. “If there was any material that could get grabbed, that’s what we were trying to eliminate. His jersey was an extremely tight-fitting jersey. When we would get him into his uniform on game day, we would put the jersey on the shoulder pads before he would put the shoulder pads on, and then we would get him into the shoulder pads.”

Davidson said it took two equipment managers to get Thomas to accomplish that task.

Sometimes, they would even need help from a third party.

“I remember one game, we were up in Seattle, and we were working like crazy trying to get him into his shoulder pads,” Davidson said. “We were getting ready to go out for the pregame warmups and Marty (Schottenheimer), our head coach, he comes over and says, ‘Derrick, we got to go.’

“Marty sees us trying to get him in and he goes, ‘How can I help? What can I do?’

“I said, ‘Marty, grab that back flap.’

“Marty’s pulling, we’re tugging. It was a struggle to get him in it.”

Marty Schottenheimer, part-time equipment manager.

At the end of the day, Davidson wasn’t sure one way or another whether the tighter jersey really made a difference in Thomas’ play.

But in his own words, that didn’t really matter.

“The key is if the player thinks it makes a difference. Does that make sense?”

Davidson was willing to do whatever it took to make one of the greatest pass rushers in NFL history comfortable on game day.

By all indications, he was.

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