“I CONSIDER MYSELF A WINNER AND I’M GONNA DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO WIN…I CAN’T EVEN TELL YOU HOW BIG MY HEART IS…” – DERRICK THOMAS
Derrick’s devotion to the Third and Long Foundation came from a personal story of overcoming a challenging real life situation. After a childhood arrest in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Miami, he was sent to Dade Marine Institute; a state-run program for troubled youth. Through a tough regimen of studying and hard work, Derrick overcame his obstacles to become one of the best linebackers in the NFL. For his work with the Foundation, Derrick was named the 1993 Edge NFL Man of the Year, an award recognizing the player who best combines on-field achievement with civic commitment. He was the youngest NFL player to receive this award. IN 1992 Derrick was named President Bush’s 832nd Point of light, the only NFL athlete to receive this honor at the time. Derrick passed away February 8, 2000, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
“I’VE ALWAYS BEEN THE GUY THAT WANTS TO GIVE BACK…SO LONG AS I CAN GET A CHANCE TO SAVE ONE PERSON…THAT’S WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT.”- NEIL SMITH
Neil’s devotion to the Third and Long Foundation came from a personal story of overcoming dyslexia, a condition that hampers reading and learning skills, along with the desire to carry on a friends dream of ‘sacking’ illiteracy. Neil learned to read a new way with dyslexia, went to college, and realized his dream to play in the NFL when he was drafted by the KC Chiefs in 1988. Neil, an All American, at Nebraska, quickly became a Pro Bowl defensive end in the NFL and a two time Super Bowl Champion. Off the field Neil has received various accolades for Neil’s Deal, a community service project with Ozanam Home for Boys and for the Yes I Can Foundation, a program for those with dyslexia. Currently Neil lives in Kansas City. His business ventures include: Copeland Restaurant and the Kansas City Brigade of the Arena Football League.
Wide receiver, Otis Taylor, was pivotal in leading the Chiefs to their one and only championship in Super Bowl IV; catching the 46 yard touchdown reception that clinched the game. The Chiefs Hall of Famer ended his career with 410 catches, 7306 yards and 57 touchdowns. He later worked as a scout for the Chiefs and then several years as a community ambassador for Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Otis was a critical part of the third and long foundation from 1999-2004. After Derrick's death in 2000, he helped to ensure that Derrick's mission continued.