Emmitt Thomas to retire after five decades in the NFL

Falcons’ interim head coach after Petrino left
Emmitt Thomas leading the Falcons back in the tough 2007 season. .

Emmitt Thomas leading the Falcons back in the tough 2007 season. .

Former Falcons assistant coach, interim head coach and Pro Football Hall of Fame player Emmitt Thomas will retire from coaching, according to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Thomas coached for the Falcons from 2002 to 2009. He was named the interim head coach after Bobby Petrino left the team after the 13th game on Dec. 12, 2007.

Thomas played for the Chiefs from 1966 to 1978 after going undrafted out of Bishop College in Dallas.

The five-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

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

Thomas was a member of both of Kansas City’s Super Bowl squads, registering four interceptions during the club’s postseason run in 1969 that culminated with a win in Super Bowl IV. He also owns a pair of Super Bowl rings from working on Joe Gibbs’ staff with the Washington Redskins.

After the 2009 season, Thomas’ contract was not renewed by the Falcons.

"Everyone here in the Falcons organization has the utmost respect for Emmitt, and we deeply appreciate his contributions to our team over the years," Falcons coach Mike Smith said on Jan. 10, 2010. "We wish Emmitt the best in his future endeavors."

He went to coach with the Chiefs in 2010.

Thomas served as the assistant head coach/secondary for 2008 and 2009 under Smith. He had served as an assistant under the team's past three head coaches, Dan Reeves, Jim Mora and Petrino.

He was responsible for keeping the team together when Petrino left and was selected to serve as the interim head coach.