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Thomas at ESPN The Weekend in 2010
|Born:||May 16, 1966|
|Height:||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight:||206 lb (93 kg)|
|High school:||Willowridge (Houston, Texas)|
|NFL Draft:||1988 / Round: 2 / Pick: 40|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|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, 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.He was a first team selection on the College Football All-America Team in 1985 and 1987.
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 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.
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.
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)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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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,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.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He is involved with several business enterprises including sports, energy, telecommunications and construction.He was appointed as vice chair of the New York State Tourism Advisory Council in 2014.
Thomas has been involved in community issues since early in his career, establishing the Thurman Thomas Foundation in 1992.He has talked about mental health and the effects of concussions suffered during his football career.
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 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 Oakland 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 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 ever 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. To date, this game represents the mid-point game in Super Bowl history as there are 26 Super Bowls both preceding and following it.
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 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.
Edward Nathan George Jr. is a former professional American football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for nine seasons. He played college football for Ohio State University and won the Heisman Trophy in 1995. He was drafted in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the Tennessee Titans. George was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011. Post-football, George earned an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. In 2016, he appeared on Broadway in the musical Chicago as the hustling lawyer Billy Flynn.
Emmitt James Smith III is a former college and professional American football running back who became the National Football League's (NFL) all-time leading rusher during his fifteen seasons in the league during the 1990s and 2000s.
Marshall William Faulk is a former American football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for twelve seasons. He played college football for San Diego State University, and was a two-time consensus All-American. He was selected by the Indianapolis Colts as the second overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft, and he also played professionally for the NFL's St. Louis Rams. Faulk is one of only three NFL players to reach at least 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards; he is the only one to amass 12,000 yards rushing and 6,000 yards receiving. Faulk was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2017. He was an analyst for various programs on the NFL Network until December 2017.
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.
The Oil Bowl is a high school football all-star game in Wichita Falls, Texas. The game began in 1938, originally between East and West Texas high school football all-stars. In 1945, the game began pitting teams from Oklahoma and Texas, and continued in that format until 2012. In 2013, a dispute concerning the disposition of Oklahoma's share of the game's charitable proceeds led the Oklahoma Coaches Association to withdraw from the game, and the 2013 game matched two Texas teams. For the years in which Texas and Oklahoma teams played, the overall record was 46-19-1 in favor of Texas.
Kenneth Leon "Kenny" King is a former American football running back who played seven seasons in the National Football League, mainly with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. He was a starter for the Raiders in Super Bowl XV and Super Bowl XVIII.
Pete Johnson is a former professional American football running back and played eight seasons in the National Football League (NFL), primarily with the Cincinnati Bengals. He played college football at Ohio State University under head coach Woody Hayes.
Tashard J. Choice is a former American football running back in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills and the Indianapolis Colts. He played college football at Georgia Tech. Choice is currently the running backs coach at Georgia Tech.
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.
Matthew Garrett Forte is a former American football running back who played ten seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Tulane and was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Forte established himself as a dual-threat running back who is capable of earning yards as a rusher and receiver. He spent eight years with the Bears before playing for the New York Jets for two seasons.
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 17–52.
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 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.