Best Voice of Reason Amid the Hysteria Surrounding Derrick Thomas' Death

Mike Hendricks, The Kansas City Star

Although recently his insipid exploration of SPAM and his campaign for the world's largest river fountain nearly dashed his chances of winning a Best of Kansas City award, Mike Hendricks' Derrick Thomas postmortem deserves recognition. Last February, while almost everyone else in the city -- and the media -- went into histrionics over a man they'd never met, Hendricks wrote a column in which he dared to remind Kansas Citians that while Thomas was a fine man and good ball player and that his death was tragic, he was only a sports figure, not a saint. The columnist even noted that his own newspaper, The Kansas City Star, had overreacted, publishing an "incredible" six and a half pages of coverage. "His passing was treated in much the manner once reserved for presidents and kings," Hendricks wrote. What, he asked, of the other 11 people who died as a result of accidents during the brief snowstorm in which Thomas lost control of his Suburban? No public memorial service, media tributes, or stealth bomber flyovers for them. "People cared a lot for Derrick Thomas," Hendricks wrote. "You only hope they care half as much about others with fewer news clippings."

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