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Chiefs Suspend LB Derrick Thomas

Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Thomas was suspended for one game Tuesday and linebacker Wayne Simmons was waived, a day after Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt said their actions "disgraced this organization as well as the community."

Thomas, Simmons and defensive end Chester McGlockton drew a total of five personal foul penalties in a shocking breakdown of self control Monday night in the final minutes of Denver's 30-7 victory.

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Thomas, who's been to the Pro Bowl each of his nine seasons, was flagged once for hitting quarterback Bubby Brister in the head when he was on the ground and twice for pulling and twisting Denver tight end Shannon Sharpe's face mask.

The fouls all came in Denver's final touchdown drive and left fans and coaches alike fuming.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer met with reporters earlier Tuesday and promised, "this will not be tolerated."

Simmons refused to speak with reporters when he left Schottenheimer's office Tuesday afternoon. But Thomas held a news conference in which he accepted his punishment and apologized to practically everyone, including his mother, grandmother, teammates, coaches, Sharpe and "the youth of America."

"My conduct last evening was not characteristic of my my game," he said.

Derrick Thomas has been suspended for his Monday night tirade. (AP)

Although he signed a five-year, $27 million contract extension before last season, Thomas' role this year has been reduced to pass-rushing duties because he is so ineffective against the run.

"I allowed a situation to get out of hand. For that, I apologize to my teammates who were on the field with me. I jeopardized our ability to win a football game," Thomas said. "I sincerely apologize and say to them my actions of last evening will never occur again.

"I have to take this week and evaluate Derrick Thomas and come back an be the best that I can be for my team and for my teammates."

Many wondered why Thomas was not ejected after his second face mask infraction in a matter of minutes against Sharpe. Schottenheimer admitted he should have pulled Thomas off the field.

"To Shannon, who I've known for a long, long time, and we've had our ins and outs and run-ins, I apologize to him because those type of actions shouldn't occur in a football game," Thomas said. "To the youth of America that look up to Derrick Thomas, I apologize to you because that is not sportsmanlike conduct and you should not conduct yourself that way on the field."

Thomas said several things led up to the breakdown in discipline, including some that go back several years in the twice-a-year battles between the two AFC West rivals.

"I let someone influence me into doing something that was totally out of character," he said.

After the game, the unbeaten Broncos spoke disdainfully of the Chiefs for taking what linebacker Bill Romanowski called "cheap shots."

"If that went on around here," said Romanowski, "the players would be out of here the next day."

The bizarre incident was just the latest in a series of setbacks for the Chiefs (4-6), who have lost five in a row for the first time since 1988 and fallen out of playoff contention in a season where they were expected them to contend for the Super Bowl.

"I've looked at the video and I say once again, I'm embarrassed, humiliated. I'm angry," Schottenheimer said. "I'm really disappointed that at the end of the football game some individuals decided what's best for this football team isn't important to them -- that their own personal agenda is what they're interested in."

Thomas' suspension means he cannot take part in practices or meetings and will miss the Chiefs' game Sunday in San Diego. Simmons, who signed a three-year contract last year, had not been playing well and probably would have been waived at the end of the year anyway.

The league could still hand out punishment of its own on Thomas, who said the Chiefs' decision was fair.

"I think the punishment is justifiable. There are certain things you can and can't do within the framework or the confines of the game," he said. "My actions last night were uncharacteristic and in some senses uncalled for."

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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