Emmitt Thomas, Chiefs assistant coach and Hall of Famer, retires after 51 NFL seasons

After more than a half-century in the NFL, Chiefs defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas is calling it a career.

Thomas, 75, has informed the Chiefs that he is retiring. He has been on the Chiefs coaching staff since 2010, returning to Kansas City, where he starred as a cornerback on the organization’s greatest teams.

He played for both Chiefs’ Super Bowl squads, winning the championship after the 1969 season, and spent his entire 13-year playing career in Kansas City.

Thomas collected a team-record 58 interceptions and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

“It was an honor to have Emmitt on our coaching staff,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Having a Pro Football Hall of Famer lead that room and share his experiences as a player and a coach has been incredible for our guys. Beyond football, he’s a tremendous person, and I’ve enjoyed working with him and getting to know him. I wish him the best in retirement.”

Thomas retired as a player in 1978 and started his coaching career at Central Missouri State. His NFL coaching career began with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1981. Thomas spent his entire coaching tenure as an assistant except for three games in 2007, when he served as the Atlanta Falcons interim head coach.

In all, Thomas spent 51 years in the NFL.

“I have been blessed and honored to be a part of the NFL for the last 51 years,” Thomas said. “My journey started in Kansas City, and by the grace of God I am able to end my NFL career here as well.”

In a statement, Thomas thanked the Hunt family and Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill and coach Jim Hanifan for giving him his first NFL coaching job.

The move continues the turnover on the Chiefs’ defensive staff. Steve Spagnuolo was hired three weeks ago as defensive coordinator to replace Bob Sutton, who was fired and now serves as a senior assistant for the Falcons.

Mike Smith and Mark DeLeone, who coached linebackers, took jobs with the Packers and Bears.

The Chiefs have a new linebackers coach, Matt House, who had been defensive coordinator at the University of Kentucky.

Last week, House had been reported to join the Chiefs staff, but Kentucky announced he was remaining. On Tuesday, Kentucky confirmed that House was leaving for Kansas City. The Chiefs will pay House’s $150,000 buyout from Kentucky.

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