Broderick Thomas

Broderick Thomas
No. 51
Position: Defensive End / Linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1967-02-20) February 20, 1967
Place of birth: Houston, Texas
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight: 254 lb (115 kg)
Career information
High school: Houston (TX) Madison
College: Nebraska
NFL Draft: 1989 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Sacks: 47.5
Interceptions: 2
Touchdowns: 1
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Broderick Lee Thomas (born February 20, 1967) is a former American football linebacker who played in the National Football League for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Detroit Lions, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football for the University of Nebraska. He called himself "Sandman", because he put running backs to sleep.

Early years

Thomas was born in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Madison High School in Houston in 1985.[1] He played as a defensive end and was named the defensive player-of-the-year by the Houston Post newspaper as a senior.

College career

Thomas accepted a scholarship to play for the University of Nebraska. Although he had never played linebacker before, he was converted to an outside linebacker, which was one of his conditions for coming to Nebraska.

He played eight games as a true freshman, registering 13 tackles (8 solo) and 2 sacks. The next year he became a starter and was a part of the second nationally ranked defense, recording 58 tackles (third on the team), 4 sacks, a single-season record of 6 fumble recoveries and a single-game record of 3 sacks against Colorado University.

As a junior he had 73 tackles, 6.5 sacks (fifth in the Big Eight), 3 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and one interception. In his final season he registered 98 tackles, 10 sacks, 35 quarterback pressures, 6 passes defensed, while helping his team win the Big Eight championship and earn an Orange Bowl invitation for the first time in five years.

He is considered to be one of the greatest defensive players in the history of Nebraska football and was also named to the Nebraska All-Century team.[2][3]

Professional career

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Thomas was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round (sixth overall) of the 1989 NFL Draft. At 6'4", 254-lb, he was projected as an outside linebacker or defensive end, but the team decided to play him at middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense as a rookie, which caused him problems learning the system.[4]

His best season came in 1991 after being shot in the upper chest and right arm during the offseason.[5] He finished with 174 tackles (tied franchise single-season record), 11 sacks and received Pro Bowl consideration. The next year he reported out of shape for training camp and struggled with his pass coverage responsibilities as an outside linebacker in the team's new 3-4 defense.[6]

In 1993, he registered 75 tackles and one sack, after his playing time was reduced to 8 starts, while platooning with Jimmy Williams. On June 31, 1994, he was waived in a salary cap move.[7]

Detroit Lions

On July 15, 1994, he was signed as a free agent by the Detroit Lions.[8] He finished with 7 sacks (led the team) and 63 tackles (fourth on the team).

Minnesota Vikings

On March 9, 1995, he signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Vikings.[9] He recorded 86 tackles and 6 sacks. He was released on February 9, 1996, after being charged with possession of an unauthorized hand gun and drunken driving.[10]

Dallas Cowboys

On March 22, 1996, he was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent, to replace Dixon Edwards, who in turn signed with the Vikings to replace Thomas.[11] In the last 6 games he was moved to defensive end after Charles Haley had season-ending back surgery, finishing with 4.5 sacks (second on the team) and 20 quarterback pressures. In 1997, as a backup he registered 31 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 10 quarterback pressures (led the team).[12] The next year he was placed on the injured reserve list after tearing ligaments in his left knee.[13]

Personal life

Thomas is the nephew of former Chicago Bears linebacker, and former San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary.[14] His son, Broderick Jr., also attended Madison High School in Houston, where he played quarterback, and later the University of Houston as a walk-on.[15] He resides in Houston, Texas.[16]


  1. "Distinguished HISD Alumni Archived May 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.." Houston Independent School District.
  2. Husker Football All Century Team
  3. KOZN, 1620 AM, Interview on "Unsportsmanlike Conduct", December 1, 2010
  14. "Q&A with Broderick Thomas". Lincoln Journal-Star (Lincoln, NE). April 15, 2007.
  16. "Life after the NFL is all pain, no fame for Broderick Thomas". ESPN The Magazine. April 4, 2011.

External links

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