Thurman Thomas

Last updated

Thurman Thomas
Thurman Thomas ESPNWeekend2010-067.jpg
Thomas at ESPN The Weekend in 2010
No. 34
Position: Running back
Personal information
Born: (1966-05-16) May 16, 1966 (age 54)
Houston, Texas
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight:206 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High school: Willowridge (Houston, Texas)
College: Oklahoma State
NFL Draft: 1988  / Round: 2 / Pick: 40
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:12,074
Yards per carry:4.2
Rushing touchdowns:65
Receptions:472
Receiving yards:4,458
Receiving touchdowns:23
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Thurman Lee Thomas (born May 16, 1966) is a former American football running back who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 13 seasons, primarily with the Buffalo Bills. He was selected by the Bills in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft, where he spent all but one season of his professional career. Thomas spent his final NFL year as a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2000.

Contents

During his 12 seasons with the Bills, Thomas established himself as an important part of the Bills "K-Gun" offense that utilized no-huddle shotgun formations. He qualified for the Pro Bowl five times, twice received first-team All-Pro honors, and was NFL MVP in 1991. Thomas' efforts helped his team make a record four consecutive Super Bowl appearances from 1991 to 1994, an accomplishment, however, often overshadowed by the Bills losing each game. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

Early years

Thomas was born in Houston, Texas. He grew up playing football on the Missouri City Junior High School (now Missouri City Middle School) and Willowridge High School teams. During the 1982-83 season, Thomas led the Willowridge football team to a Texas Class 4A State Title. He formerly resided in the Willow Park II subdivision, located southeast of the Fort Bend Tollway and Beltway 8.

College career

Thomas attended college at Oklahoma State University where he was an upperclassman teammate of running back Barry Sanders. At Oklahoma State, Thomas had 897 rushes for 4,595 yards, 43 touchdowns, 5,146 total yards, and 21 100-yard rushing games. He was also a Heisman Trophy candidate in his senior year, finishing seventh in voting. [2] He was a first team selection on the College Football All-America Team in 1985 [3] and 1987.

Thomas led the Big Eight in rushing and scoring in 1985 and 1987 and was voted the conference's Offensive Player of the Year both seasons. Thurman Thomas starred as a sophomore in 1985 when he posted 1,553 yards rushing, fourth best in the country. Between his sophomore and junior seasons he suffered a tear to his ACL in his left knee, missing some games during the 1986 season. He bounced back his senior season, rushing for 1,613 yards and finishing third nationally in rushing. From 1984-87, Thomas carried the ball a remarkable 897 times for the Cowboys, the most rushing attempts in a career in Oklahoma State history. [4]

In the 1987 Sun Bowl, Thomas ran for 157 yards and four touchdowns in the 35-33 comeback victory over West Virginia, keeping sophomore Barry Sanders on the sidelines for the majority of the game. Thomas left OSU as the school's all-time leading rusher and his number 34 (chosen in honor of Earl Campbell and Walter Payton) [5] is one of only three jerseys retired at Oklahoma State.

In 2008, Thomas was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame. [6]

Professional career

Buffalo Bills

A knee injury damaged Thomas's certain first round pick status and caused him to slip into second round (40th overall) of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, their first choice in the draft. [7] Thomas is well known as part of the offense that included Jim Kelly and Andre Reed, which led the Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances.

Thomas was the AFC rushing leader in 1990, 1991, and 1993. In the first three seasons of his career, Thomas had a total of 12 games with at least 100 yards rushing. The Bills won every one of those games. In 1989 and 1990, his combined total yards from scrimmage was 3,742. This was more than 200 yards better than any other player in the NFL. He was voted to the All-Pro team in 1990 and 1991, was selected to 5 straight Pro Bowls from 1989–1993, and was named NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1991, after becoming the 11th player in NFL history to finish a season with over 2,000 all-purpose yards. Currently, he is 15th on the NFL all-time list for most rushing yards in a career.

Thomas currently holds the all-time Buffalo Bills rushing record with 11,938 yards and the team record for yards from scrimmage with 16,279 over 12 years. He is also 4th overall in team scoring. Overall, Thomas finished his 13 seasons (his 13th season he played for Miami) with 12,074 rushing yards, 472 receptions for 4,458 yards, and 88 touchdowns (65 rushing and 23 receiving) with 16,532 total yards from scrimmage.

Thomas is the only player in NFL history to lead the league in total yards from scrimmage for four consecutive seasons. He is one of only six running backs to have over 400 receptions and 10,000 yards rushing. Walter Payton, Marshall Faulk, Marcus Allen, Tiki Barber, and LaDainian Tomlinson are the other five. Thomas is also one of five running backs to have rushed for over 1,000 yards in 8 consecutive seasons along with Curtis Martin, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Tomlinson.

Thomas also set NFL playoff records with the most career points (126), touchdowns (21), and consecutive playoff games with a touchdown (9). Overall, he rushed for 1,442 yards and caught 76 passes for 672 yards in his 21 postseason games. In a 1989 playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns, Thomas recorded 13 receptions for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns, which was a postseason record for receptions by a running back and tied tight end Kellen Winslow's record for most receptions in a playoff game. At the time of his retirement, his 76 postseason receptions ranked him 4th all time, and to this day he remains the only running back among the NFL's top 10 leaders in that category.

Super Bowl XXV

Thomas had an outstanding performance in Super Bowl XXV, rushing for 135 yards and a touchdown, while also catching 5 passes for 55 yards. He would have almost certainly won the Super Bowl MVP award, but the Bills lost the game 20-19 when kicker Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal attempt with 8 seconds remaining. [8]

Some fans and sports writers, such as Sports Illustrated writer Paul Zimmerman, [9] have argued that Thomas had the best performance of the game, so therefore he should have won the MVP award even though his team lost. He had far more yards and catches than New York Giants running back Ottis Anderson, who won the MVP. [10]

His performances in the Bills other postseason games that year were also superb. He rushed for a total of 255 yards, caught 8 passes for 99 yards, and scored 3 touchdowns in their 2 playoff games prior to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XXVI

Thomas is noted for a mishap in Super Bowl XXVI. Thomas had a pre-game ritual where he placed his helmet at the 34-yard line. His helmet was moved in order for the stage to be set up for Harry Connick, Jr. to perform the national anthem. This caused Thomas to miss Buffalo's first two offensive plays. [11] He went on to gain just 13 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He also caught 4 passes for 27 yards. On August 8, 2009, during teammate Bruce Smith's Hall of Fame induction speech, while he was acknowledging his relationship with Thomas, Bruce proclaimed "I hid your helmet!" Following the ceremony on NFL Total Access, Bruce indicated this was merely a joke. [12]

Super Bowl XXVII

Thomas scored the first points of the game for his team on a 2-yard touchdown run, but was limited to just 19 rushing yards on 11 carries and 4 receptions for 10 yards in Buffalo's 52-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Thomas was still recovering from a hip injury he suffered in the first game of the postseason. As a result, running back Kenneth Davis got the majority of carries in the game. Thomas also committed a costly fumble that was converted into a Dallas touchdown. [13]

Super Bowl XXVIII

Thomas had another disappointing Super Bowl performance in this game, which the Bills lost to the Cowboys 30-13. He scored the only touchdown of the game for his team, but was limited to just 37 rushing yards on 16 carries. He was a reliable target as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 7 passes for 52 yards but he lost 2 fumbles that led to 10 Dallas points. [14]

Miami Dolphins

Thomas signed with the Miami Dolphins during the 2000 off-season, after the Bills had released him to clear space under the salary cap. He suffered a knee injury on November 12, 2000 against the San Diego Chargers which ended his NFL career. [15] In his only season with the Dolphins, Thomas ran for 136 yards on 28 carries and no rushing touchdowns and 16 receptions 117 yards and one receiving touchdown in nine games. [16]

Retirement, Pro Football Hall of Fame

After deciding to retire, Thomas signed a ceremonial one-day contract on February 27, 2001 with the Bills. [17]

Thurman Thomas was first eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. In that year, he made it to the list of ten finalists, but was not one of the six players elected to the Hall that year. He was selected on February 3, 2007, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. [18] Thomas joined his former quarterback Jim Kelly and wide receiver James Lofton in the Hall of Fame.

Thomas, Steve Tasker, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, Don Beebe, and Jim Kelly were the subject of the 30 for 30 film, Four Falls of Buffalo .

His jersey number, 34, was retired by the Bills on national TV on Monday October 29, 2018 in honor of his achievements. [19]

Personal life

Thomas is married to Patti Mariacher, who is from Buffalo and was on the Oklahoma State University golf team. They have four children, Olivia, Angel, Annika, and Thurman III. [20]

He is involved with several business enterprises including sports, energy, telecommunications and construction. [21] He was appointed as vice chair of the New York State Tourism Advisory Council in 2014. [22]

Thomas has been involved in community issues since early in his career, establishing the Thurman Thomas Foundation in 1992. [23] He has talked about mental health and the effects of concussions suffered during his football career. [24] [25]

Related Research Articles

Super Bowl XXV

Super Bowl XXV was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Buffalo Bills and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion New York Giants to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1990 season. The Giants defeated the Bills by the score of 20–19, winning their second Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XXVI

Super Bowl XXVI was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Washington Redskins and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Buffalo Bills to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1991 season. The Redskins defeated the Bills by a score of 37–24, becoming the fourth team after the Pittsburgh Steelers, the now Las Vegas Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers to win three Super Bowls. The Bills became the third team, after the Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos to lose back-to-back Super Bowls. The game was played on January 26, 1992, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the first time the city played host to a Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XXVII 1993 Edition of the Super Bowl

Super Bowl XXVII was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Buffalo Bills and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1992 season. The Cowboys defeated the Bills by the score of 52–17, winning their third Super Bowl in team history, and their first one in 15 years. This game is tied with Super Bowl XXXVII as the third-highest scoring Super Bowl with 69 combined points. The Bills became the first team to lose three consecutive Super Bowls, and just the second team to play in three straight. The game was played on January 31, 1993 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the seventh Super Bowl held in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Super Bowl XXVIII

Super Bowl XXVIII was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Buffalo Bills to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1993 season. The Cowboys defeated the Bills for the second straight year by the score of 30–13, winning their fourth Super Bowl in team history, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers for most Super Bowl wins. The game was played on January 30, 1994, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. Since the 1993 regular season was conducted over 18 weeks, the traditional bye week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl was not employed; the last time this happened was before Super Bowl XXV.

Super Bowl XXX 1996 edition of the Super Bowl

Super Bowl XXX was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1995 season. The Cowboys defeated the Steelers by the score of 27–17. The game was played on January 28, 1996, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, the first time the Super Bowl was played in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Emmitt Smith American football running back

Emmitt James Smith III is an American former professional football player who was a running back for 15 seasons in the National Football League (NFL) during the 1990s and 2000s, primarily with the Dallas Cowboys. A three-time Super Bowl champion with the Cowboys, he is the league's all-time leading rusher.

Terrell Davis American football running back

Terrell Lamar Davis is a former American football running back who played for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL) from 1995 to 2001. Davis was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.

Andre Reed

Andre Darnell Reed is a former professional American football player. He played wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) for 16 seasons, 15 with the Buffalo Bills (1985–1999) and one with the Washington Redskins (2000). After being eligible for eight years, Reed was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

Chuck Foreman Player of American football

Walter Eugene "Chuck" Foreman is a retired American football running back who played for the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots in the National Football League. Considered one of the best passing-catching backs in NFL history, Foreman started in three Super Bowls with the Vikings and was the premiere back for the team for most of the 1970s. Upon entering the league in 1973, he was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first five seasons of his career. During this time, he was also named to 2 first-team All-Pro teams and 2 second-team All-Pro teams. Nicknamed "The Spin Doctor" for his elusive running abilities, Foreman held the Vikings franchise record for rushing yards from scrimmage upon his retirement. As part of the team's 50th anniversary celebration, Foreman was named as one of the 50 Greatest Vikings in 2010.

Walter Benton "Walt" Garrison is a former American football fullback in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. He was selected in the fifth round of the 1966 NFL Draft. He played college football at Oklahoma State University.

Kenneth Earl Davis is a former professional American football running back who played for the NFL's Green Bay Packers from 1986–1988 and the Buffalo Bills from 1989–1994.

Charles Fred Alexander Jr. is a former professional American football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He played college football for Louisiana State University (LSU) and twice received consensus All-America honors, and he was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was a first-round pick in the 1979 NFL draft by the Bengals.

Electric Company (football) 1970s American-football offensive line of New Yorks Buffalo Bills

The Electric Company were the offensive line of the Buffalo Bills during the mid-1970s that helped running back O. J. Simpson establish numerous National Football League (NFL) all-time records and earn numerous statistical titles. The nickname is sometimes more loosely used to refer to the Electric Company Offense for the Bills offensive unit or the Electric Company Buffalo Bills for the teams of this era.

The 1990 Buffalo Bills season was the 31st for the franchise and the 21st in the National Football League. The team finished the year with a record of 13 wins and 3 losses, and first in the American Football Conference (AFC) East division. They were 8–0 at home for the second time in their franchise history. On the road, the Bills were 5–3. Buffalo qualified for their first Super Bowl appearance.

The 1991 Buffalo Bills season was the 32nd season and 22nd in the National Football League. The Buffalo Bills finished the National Football League's 1991 season with a record of 13 wins and 3 losses, the same record as their previous season, and finished first in the AFC East division. The Bills qualified for their second Super Bowl appearance but lost to the Washington Redskins, 24–37.

The 1992 Buffalo Bills season was the 33rd season for the team in the National Football League. The Buffalo Bills finished the National Football League's 1992 season with a record of 11 wins and 5 losses, and finished second in the AFC East division. The Bills qualified for their third straight Super Bowl appearance, but lost to the Dallas Cowboys 52–17.

The 1988 Buffalo Bills season was the franchise's 29th overall season as a football team and the 19th in the National Football League. The Bills ended a streak of four consecutive losing seasons by winning the AFC East; they finished the NFL's 1988 season with a record of 12 wins and 4 losses; it was the club's first winning season since 1981, its first 12-win season since the 1964 AFL championship season, and only the fifth double-digit win season in team history. The Bills were 8–0 at home for the first time in their franchise history. On the road, the Bills were 4–4. From an attendance standpoint, the franchise set a record for attendance with 631,818 fans.

The 1989 Buffalo Bills season was the franchise's 30th overall season as a football team and the 20th in the National Football League. The Bills finished in first place in the AFC East and finished the National Football League's 1989 season with a record of 9 wins and 7 losses. Although Buffalo won the division and qualified for the postseason, their record was a drop off from their 12–4 mark in 1988.

James White (running back) American football running back

James Calvin White is an American football running back for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Wisconsin and was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. In Super Bowl LI, he scored three touchdowns, including the game-winning score in overtime. He set Super Bowl records for receptions with 14 and points scored with 20, including the first points ever scored in overtime in a Super Bowl.

Sony Michel American football running back

Sony Michel is an American football running back for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted 31st overall by the Patriots of the 2018 NFL Draft. Michel played college football at Georgia.

References

  1. "No more doubting Thomas: Bills' back selected as Offensive Player of Year". The Victoria Advocate. Associated Press. December 30, 1991. p. B1. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  2. "1987 Heisman Trophy Voting". Sports-Reference.com. Archived from the original on June 10, 2017.
  3. Thomas also finished 10th in Heisman voting in 1985, Sports-Reference.com: 1985 Heisman Trophy Voting Archived October 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 5, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. http://www.buffalobills.com/news/article-1/Thurman-Thomas-No-34-to-be-retired-by-the-Bills/8a3ea9ad-0a81-4bb8-9176-b4fab1dcdb28'
  6. "Thurman Thomas (2008)". footballfoundation.org. 2019 NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE HALL OF FAME, INC. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  7. "Player BIO". profootballhof.com. Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  8. "Wide and to the right: The kick that will forever haunt Scott Norwood". si.com. ABG-SI LLC. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 21, 2006. Retrieved July 6, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. "Super Bowl XXV - New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills - January 27th, 1991". pro-football-reference.com. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  11. "Oklahoma State's Thurman Thomas Still Living Down Super Bowl Gaffe – Lostlettermen.com". Archived from the original on September 24, 2011.
  12. Brown, Larry. "Bruce Smith Says He Hid Thurman Thomas' Helmet". larrybrownsports.com. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  13. "Super Bowl XXVII - Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills - January 31st, 1993". pro-football-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  14. "Super Bowl XXVIII - Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills - January 30th, 1994". pro-football-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  15. Hyde, Dave. "THURMAN MAY BE GONE FOR GOOD". sun-sentinel.com. Sun Sentinel. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  16. "Thurman Thomas". nfl.com. NFL Enterprises LLC. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  17. "Feb. 27, 2001: Thurman Thomas retires". buffalobills.com. The Buffalo Bills. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  18. "Thurman Thomas". profootballhof.com. Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  19. "Jason Wolf: Thurman Thomas' greatness not lost on dreary night". The Buffalo News. October 29, 2018.
  20. "Up Close With Thurman Thomas: Conversations on Life After The Game and Fatherhood". www.nflplayerengagement.com. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  21. "About Us". 3480 Group, LLC. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  22. "Governor Cuomo Announces the Appointment of Former Buffalo Bills Running Back Thurman Thomas to the New York State Tourism Advisory Board". Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. September 28, 2014.
  23. Lieber, Jill (February 1, 1993). "Mistaken Identity". SI.com. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  24. Spiteri, Ray (April 22, 2016). "NFL legend breaks silence about concussions". Niagara Falls Review. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  25. Kawaya, Jordan (December 14, 2017). "Thurman Thomas gives back in life after football". www.wnypapers.com. Retrieved January 14, 2018.