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Renaming highway after Derrick Thomas called innapropriate

April 26, 2000
By: Dan Shaw
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Charges of conceiving babies out of wedlock -- seven times -- may have cost a deceased Kansas City football player a section of I-70 named in his honor -- at least if one Missouri senator gets his way.

The Senate put aside a resolution to rename the section after a senator argued Thomas was not an appropriate role model.

"Fatherlessness is one of the biggest problems in our society that gives rise to a whole raft of other problems," Sen. Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, said to his Senate colleagues.

Sen. Mary Bland, D-Kansas City, had sponsored the proposal in honor of the line backer killed in an auto crash last January.

It dubs a piece of highway stretching east from Blue Ridge to Highway 291 the "Derrick Thomas Memorial Highway."

Thomas, who was involved with several charitable organizations, was an asset to his community, Bland said.

"He made a great contribution, not only in sports but in humanitarian causes," said Bland.

Kinder prefaced his criticisms by acknowledging Thomas's charitable contributions. But, he then pointed to allegations that Thomas fathered seven illegitimate children with six different women.

Kinder also said if Thomas had survived his fatal accident, he would be facing criminal charges for reckless driving.

"I did not think the Senate should rush to a vote to memorialize this man as a hero," said Kinder.

A motion to kill the resolution was submitted shortly after debate began in the Senate.

After a period of intense bickering, the Senate leadership halted discussion without action on the resolution.