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 52)
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 player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. Thomas was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. Thomas was an important part of the Bills "no-huddle offense" that won four consecutive AFC championships.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

Running back position in American and Canadian football

A running back (RB) is an American and Canadian football position, a member of the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block. There are usually one or two running backs on the field for a given play, depending on the offensive formation. A running back may be a halfback, a wingback or a fullback. A running back will sometimes be called a "feature back" if he is the team's starting running back.

National Football League Professional American football league

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.

Contents

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.

Willowridge High School (Houston) public high school in Houston, Texas

Willowridge High School is a public high school in Houston, Texas, United States and part of the Fort Bend Independent School District. Willowridge serves grades 9 through 12.

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.

Oklahoma State Cowboys football

The Oklahoma State Cowboys football program represents Oklahoma State University–Stillwater in college football. The team is a member of the Big 12 Conference and competes at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level. The Cowboys are led by Mike Gundy, who is in his fourteenth year as head coach. Oklahoma State plays their home games at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Barry Sanders American football running back, Pro Football Hall of Famer

Barry Sanders is a former American football running back. He played professionally for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). A Pro Bowl invitee in each of his ten NFL seasons and two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Sanders led the league in rushing yards four times and established himself as one of the most elusive runners in pro football with his quickness and agility. In 2007, he was ranked by NFL Network's NFL Top 10 series as the most elusive runner in NFL history, and also topped its list of greatest players never to play in a Super Bowl. He is often regarded as the greatest running back in NFL history.

Heisman Trophy annual award for outstanding college football player

The Heisman Memorial Trophy, is awarded annually to a player in NCAA football. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. It is presented by the Heisman Trophy Trust in early December before the postseason bowl games.

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.

The 1987 John Hancock Sun Bowl was the 54th annual Sun Bowl. The contest featured the West Virginia Mountaineers and the 11th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. Oklahoma State edged out West Virginia, 35–33. The game was decided with 1:13 to play. The game was played on snowy, cold Christmas Day of 1987 before a crowd of 43,240 in front of a CBS national television audience.

West Virginia Mountaineers athletic program of West Virginia University

The West Virginia Mountaineers are the athletic teams that represent West Virginia University, an American university located in Morgantown, West Virginia. The school is a member of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I. The Mountaineers have been a member of the Big 12 Conference since 2012. At that time, the Mountaineers joined the Mid-American Conference as an affiliate member for men's soccer. The two major sports at the university are football and basketball, although many of the other sports have large followings as well.

Earl Campbell former professional American football running back

Earl Christian Campbell is a former American football running back who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. Known for his aggressive, punishing running style and ability to break tackles, Campbell gained recognition as one of the best power running backs in NFL history.

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

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. 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.

The 1988 NFL draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The draft was held April 24–25, 1988, at the Marriot Marquis in New York City, New York. The league also held a supplemental draft after the regular draft and before the regular season.

Jim Kelly American football quarterback

James Edward Kelly is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for eleven seasons and spent the entirety of his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills. He also played two seasons with the Houston Gamblers in the United States Football League (USFL).

Andre Reed former professional American football player

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. Reed is currently a Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) Ambassador after being inducted to their Hall of Fame in 2015. In addition, he leads up a literacy program for underprivileged youth in the BGCA, called Read with Reed 83 Challenge.

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.

Some fans and sports writers, such as Sports Illustrated writer Paul Zimmerman, [6] 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.

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. [7] 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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

Retirement, Pro Football Hall of Fame

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

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. 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. [8]

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. [9]

He is involved with several business enterprises including sports, energy, telecommunications and construction. [10] He was appointed as vice chair of the New York State Tourism Advisory Council in 2014. [11]

Thomas has been involved in community issues since early in his career, establishing the Thurman Thomas Foundation in 1992. [12] He has talked about mental health and the effects of concussions suffered during his football career. [13] [14]

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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. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 21, 2006. Retrieved July 6, 2006.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Oklahoma State's Thurman Thomas Still Living Down Super Bowl Gaffe – Lostlettermen.com". Archived from the original on September 24, 2011.
  8. "Jason Wolf: Thurman Thomas' greatness not lost on dreary night". The Buffalo News. October 29, 2018.
  9. "Up Close With Thurman Thomas: Conversations on Life After The Game and Fatherhood". www.nflplayerengagement.com. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  10. "About Us". 3480 Group, LLC. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  11. "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.
  12. Lieber, Jill (February 1, 1993). "Mistaken Identity". SI.com. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  13. Spiteri, Ray (April 22, 2016). "NFL legend breaks silence about concussions". Niagara Falls Review. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  14. Kawaya, Jordan (December 14, 2017). "Thurman Thomas gives back in life after football". www.wnypapers.com. Retrieved January 14, 2018.