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PFT Heroes 2010: The Derrick Thomas Award

Super Bowl Football AP

It was hard to pick the finalists for the Derrick Thomas Award.  It was easy to pick the winner.

But more on that later.

Our award for the best linebacker of the season is named for the late Chiefs standout, who was added to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to launch the 2009 season.  (They eventually had to flash the lights on Carl Peterson so that the 2010 ceremony could begin.)

No linebacker had a greater impact during the decade that Thomas spent harassing quarterbacks.  His exploits included an uncanny seven sacks in one game, causing Dave Krieg to still pee a little whenever he sees the number 58.

After 11 NFL seasons, Thomas suffered serious injuries in a January 23, 2000 automobile accident.  Paralyzed from the waist down, a blood clot ended his life
not long thereafter.

He helped the Chiefs get to the playoffs ten times, and he was named the league’s Man of the Year in 1993.  In eight straight seasons, he participated in the Pro Bowl.

This year, the no-brainer recipient is Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.  Nearly voted the defensive player of the year, Matthews’ postseason performance, including forcing along with Ryan Pickett a key fourth-quarter fumble in the Super Bowl, makes him the far away top choice for the award.  Indeed, Matthews secured more than 56 percent of the vote in a poll that had six options, including Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake, and Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson.

Though we’ve yet to commission a plaque or a trophy or a WWE-style belt, Matthews can add to his list of accolades the satisfaction of knowing that an ever-growing Internet outpost of football info regards him as the best linebacker in the sport.

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31 Responses to “PFT Heroes 2010: The Derrick Thomas Award”
  1. tsutor88 says: Feb 13, 2011 2:37 PM

    Clay’s sheer talent and frightening capability cannot be questioned. The fact that this man clearly juiced up for years…cannot be questioned. Mark him down as a hero.

  2. techvet says: Feb 13, 2011 2:44 PM

    Jealousy: (n) jealousy, green-eyed monster (a feeling of jealous envy (especially of a rival))

  3. rtl1984 says: Feb 13, 2011 2:52 PM

    Clay Matthews = monster. Say whatever you want about this kid, I hate it when he tears up the Vikings, but I can’t help but appreciate the pure talent that he has. I wish I had the Matthews family genes.

  4. JimmySmith says: Feb 13, 2011 3:09 PM

    Its easy to take cheap shots on blog, like calling Clay Matthews a juicer when there is no evidence of it, ever!

    Now Cushing is a different story and the mere fact that the two played on the same college team does not mean they both did something illegal. Would you call out the VA Tech teammates of Michael Vick as dog killers just because he is a sociopath?

    Didn’t think so.

  5. hollywoodeggers says: Feb 13, 2011 3:10 PM

    only thing this guy has on demarcus ware is a ring… thanks to aaron rodgers. other than that, this guy can’t even hold ware’s jock. i’m guessing the only awards any nfl player would give two sh!ts about is awards givin by their peers.

  6. terpface says: Feb 13, 2011 3:16 PM

    Hali led the AFC is sacks and QB pressures and he wasnt even a nominee…I guess everything has turned into a popularity contest now

    But congrats to Clay Matthews. Dude is a beast

  7. emptymindtalkingloud says: Feb 13, 2011 3:19 PM

    Jets SUCK

  8. terrellblowens says: Feb 13, 2011 3:21 PM

    I know Matthews deserved to win, but I am still confused as to how Tamba Hali was not even put on the poll. Also, all the other players on the list were 3-4 OLBs. EJ Henderson doesn’t fit at all, being a 4-3 Mike

  9. hoobsher says: Feb 13, 2011 3:25 PM

    lol@krieg still peeing at 58

  10. maninmo says: Feb 13, 2011 3:50 PM

    Great choice. Matthews was outstanding this season.

  11. wtfru2 says: Feb 13, 2011 3:57 PM

    Amazing what those growth hormones will do. They even turn you into a hero?

  12. jc1958cool says: Feb 13, 2011 4:20 PM

    tsutor88: how do you know he juiced, haven’t seen any proof or tests ! just another idiot foaming at the mouth!!!

  13. profootballwalk says: Feb 13, 2011 4:21 PM

    If I won an award voted by PFT commenters, I’d demand a recount.

  14. seaner44 says: Feb 13, 2011 4:31 PM

    After one good season calling him the best in the game may be a bit premature

  15. bluebrewer says: Feb 13, 2011 4:44 PM

    Is it so unbelievable that he was a late bloomer with a tireless work ethic and phenominal genetics? The fact that he has never failed a drug test seems to mean nothing to jealous fans of underperforming teams. Until you come to the table with some shred of proof that he is juicing….STFU!!!!

  16. goombar2 says: Feb 13, 2011 4:58 PM

    He was what? the 24th pick? The Pack hoodwinked the Pats big time on that. He’s done nothing but terrorize the vikes… The Steelers watched their SB dreams (and their argument that Big Ben is elite) go down the drain when he stripped their RB of the ball…

    Yeah, haters gonna hate… But secretly, they all wished he was playing for their ball club!

  17. childressrulz says: Feb 13, 2011 5:06 PM

    Mathews definitely deserves this award. The problem is he deserved the DPOY award as well. Honestly where was Polamolu in the SB? Big players are suppose to show up for big games. Troy Polamolu has slowed down a lot this year. Him winning the DPOY award is a joke. Get a haircut and do a better job Troy.

  18. jc1958cool says: Feb 13, 2011 5:11 PM

    seaner44 : that’s 2 good seasons, 1st yr 10 sacks and missed some games, 2nd yr 13 1/2 missed 1 game ! that’s 23 1/2 in two years see you in canton!!!

  19. arnoldziffel says: Feb 13, 2011 5:45 PM

    Congrats to Clay!

    It’s nice to know that next season will be just his third in the league, playing for the World Champion Green Bay Packers!

    Dang! That has a nice ring to it …

  20. rectumnearlykilledem says: Feb 13, 2011 5:57 PM

    Derrick Thomas…7 kids with 6 women.

    So shouldn’t Antonio Cromartie win this award?

  21. happy1114 says: Feb 13, 2011 6:26 PM

    Why is there an award named after someone as irresponsible in his life as Derrick Thomas was. And the NFL wants Character right…… Who knows how many of his kids are struggling now….sad deal….so you win this award and your kid asks you about DT…..then he decides to google him and finds out about all the poor kids left with nothing….Rename the award there has to be some LB worthy…

  22. jbaxt says: Feb 13, 2011 6:59 PM

    happy1114, I agree… Standout athletes shouldn’t get any credit, maybe they should name the award after Lawrence Taylor, the only LB/DE you could compare DT to. Maybe kids shouldn’t learn about Mike Tyson, Magic Johnson, or Wilt Chamberlin either…

    The dude had multiple children with multiple women, so what, it’s not terribly uncommon with athletes. Your sorry azz can sit there and talk sh!t but in reality the guy PRODUCED like no other on the field (and produced just as well off the field). You put a couple million in my pocket and have women flock all over m, my judgement might (would) beome flawed. Bad character? Yes, but a bad azz on the field, hence the recognition. Had he lived to finish his career he would have been a top 5 defensive player in the history of the game and likely whould have been able to support his children.

  23. mataug says: Feb 13, 2011 7:09 PM

    a) Why was Hali not one of the options ?
    b) How did Thomas manage to win the Man of the Year award while he brought seven children (from multiple women mind you) into the world ? Isn’t that a bit irresponsible on his behalf ?

  24. commandercornpone says: Feb 13, 2011 7:18 PM

    first, none of these guys are saints (real saints, that is)…

    troy was hurt this year and looked like it came back in the playoffs. as long as a strong (or free) safety who was hurt was going to get THAT award, better pick would have been ed reed.

    the pack had pressure, the steelers line didnt play well, as usual.

  25. madesian says: Feb 13, 2011 7:29 PM

    @childressrulz the DPY award was given before the Super Bowl. #just sayin

  26. Canyonero says: Feb 13, 2011 7:57 PM

    He’s a great talent, on a team with great coaching.

    Linebackers coach Kevin Greene was a pretty good player in his day. To offer an understatement.

  27. jimmysee says: Feb 13, 2011 9:08 PM

    He’s obviously juicing, right tsutor88? I mean, he has long hair and plays like a monster.

    Can’t be — like — talent or coaching.

  28. hooterdawg says: Feb 13, 2011 11:09 PM

    “…an ever-growing Internet outpost of football info…”

    Yeah, ESPN thinks highly of Mathews.

  29. juancorsair says: Feb 14, 2011 6:16 AM

    Congrats to Clay! The dude is a BEAST! As for the “juicing” comments… All I can say is it comes as no surprise. Jealousy is a harsh mistress after all.

    Green Bay Packers: 13 Times World Champions

  30. dukemarc says: Feb 14, 2011 10:51 AM

    hollywoodeggers says: Feb 13, 2011 3:10 PM

    only thing this guy has on demarcus ware is a ring… thanks to aaron rodgers. other than that, this guy can’t even hold ware’s jock. i’m guessing the only awards any nfl player would give two sh!ts about is awards givin by their peers.
    __________________________

    Ware took the ENTIRE game off against the Packers this year….anyone who does that isn’t deserving of any award.

  31. ejmat2 says: Feb 14, 2011 2:41 PM

    Matthews is a flat out beast. Unfortunately for the Vikings and their fans (such as myself) he is a Packer. I agree he is the best LB in football today.

    Whoever said he couldn’t hold Ware’s jock is dilusional. He is much better than Ware. Besides I think Matthews would much rather leave the jock holding to Aaron Rodgers. LOL. Sorry I couldn’t resist. Before the Packer fans go on a rampage just know that I was kidding and I actually think Rodgers is in the top 3 QBs in the league as well. You guys are very fortunate to have Matthews and Rodgers on your team.

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