Classic Performances: Derrick Thomas takes over The Hurricane Bowl (1988)

The blueprint for the modern edge rusher.

Classic Performances: Derrick Thomas takes over The Hurricane Bowl (1988)

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One thing I can't stand about modern sports discourse is how quick people are to throw aside the greatness of players from the past. The "Michael Jordan's era played against milkmen," takes are funny for internet banter, but there are people who actually believe that top athletes from the past couldn't be that in 2024.

Don't get me twisted - there's no denying that today's athlete is faster, stronger, more prepared and better trained than ever. Like anything else in life, evolution pushes sports forward, and modern players become superior to their predecessors. I'm not saying you could put 1994 Jerry Rice in a time machine and he'd go for 1500 yards and 13 touchdowns next season. But I have little doubt that he'd still be a superstar in 2024 if he had the same advantages in training, nutrition, seven-on-seven camps, etc. that today's receivers have from the moment they start playing football. I feel the same way about one of the greatest pass rushers of all-time - Derrick Thomas.

With no disrespect to Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Thomas is the player I've always felt is the blueprint for the modern edge rusher. His speed and quickness allowed him to blast by tackles off the edge, but he was still big enough (6-3, 240 pounds) to handle the physicality of the trenches. Guys like DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, and T.J. Watt all had/have major elements of their game that descended directly from how Derrick Thomas played.