Thurman Lee Thomas (born May 16, 1966) is a former American football
player who was a running back in the
National Football League
National Football League (NFL)
Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. Thomas was elected to the
Pro Football Hall of Fame
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.
1 Early years
2 College athletic career
3 Athletic career
3.1 Buffalo Bills
Super Bowl XXV
Super Bowl XXVI
Super Bowl XXVII
Super Bowl XXVIII
3.2 Miami Dolphins
3.3 Retirement, Pro Football Hall of Fame
4 Personal life
6 External links
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 athletic 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.
He was a first team selection on the College Football All-America Team
in 1985 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 898 times for the
Cowboys, the most rushing attempts in a career in Oklahoma State
In the 1987 Sun Bowl, Thomas ran for 157 yards and four touchdowns in
the 35-33 comeback victory over West Virginia, keeping freshman 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 is one of
only three jerseys retired at Oklahoma State.
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.
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
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
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, 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.
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.
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.
Thomas signed with the
Miami Dolphins during the 2000 off-season. 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
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
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
30 for 30 film, Four Falls of Buffalo.
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.
^ "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.
Heisman Trophy Voting". Sports-Reference.com. Archived from
the original on 2017-06-10.
^ Thomas also finished 10th in Heisman voting in 1985,
Heisman Trophy Voting Archived 2011-10-10
at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-05. Retrieved
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-07-21. Retrieved
^ "Oklahoma State's
Thurman Thomas Still Living Down
Super Bowl Gaffe
– Lostlettermen.com". Archived from the original on
^ "Up Close With Thurman Thomas: Conversations on Life After The Game
and Fatherhood". www.nflplayerengagement.com. Retrieved 14 January
^ "About Us". 3480 Group, LLC. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
^ "Governor Cuomo Announces the Appointment of Former Buffalo Bills
Thurman Thomas to the New York State Tourism Advisory
Board". Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. 28 September 2014.
^ Lieber, Jill (February 1, 1993). "Mistaken Identity". SI.com.
Retrieved January 14, 2018.
^ Spiteri, Ray (April 22, 2016). "NFL legend breaks silence about
concussions". Niagara Falls Review. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
^ Kawaya, Jordan (December 14, 2017). "
Thurman Thomas gives back in
life after football". www.wnypapers.com. Retrieved January 14,
Career statistics and player information from
NFL.com • ESPN • Yahoo!
Sports • SI.com • Pro-Football-Reference
Thurman Thomas Official Website
Thurman Thomas—awards and honors
College Football All-America Team
College Football All-America Team consensus selections
QB Chuck Long
RB Reggie Dupard
RB Bo Jackson
RB Napoleon McCallum
RB Thurman Thomas
RB Lorenzo White
WR Tim McGee
WR David Williams
TE Willie Smith
OT Jim Dombrowski
OT Brian Jozwiak
G Jeff Bregel
G Jamie Dukes
G J. D. Maarleveld
G John Rienstra
C Peter Anderson
DL Tony Casillas
DL Tim Green
DL Mike Hammerstein
DL Leslie O'Neal
DL Mike Ruth
LB Brian Bosworth
LB Johnny Holland
LB Larry Station
DB Brad Cochran
DB David Fulcher
DB Scott Thomas
K John Lee
P Barry Helton
1988 NFL draft selections
NFL Most Valuable Player
NFL Most Valuable Player Award winners
1957: J. Brown
1958: J. Brown
1960: Van Brocklin
1962: J. Taylor
1965: J. Brown
1972: L. Brown
1975: Tarkenton 1976: Jones
1986: L. Taylor
1997: Favre & Sanders
2003: Manning & McNair
NFL Offensive Player of the Year
NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award winners
NFL players with 10,000 rushing yards
O. J. Simpson
Italics denotes active player
National Football League
National Football League NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team
Buffalo Bills 50th Anniversary Team (2009)
Jim Kelly (QB)
Thurman Thomas (RB)
Andre Reed (WR)
Eric Moulds (WR)
James Lofton (WR)
Pete Metzelaars (TE)
Jim Ritcher (G)
Ruben Brown (G)
Joe DeLamielleure (G)
Billy Shaw (G)
Kent Hull (C)
Bruce Smith (DE)
Tom Sestak (DT)
Fred Smerlas (DT)
Darryl Talley (LB)
Mike Stratton (LB)
Cornelius Bennett (LB)
Shane Conlan (LB)
Butch Byrd (CB)
Nate Odomes (CB)
George Saimes (S)
Henry Jones (S)
Steve Christie (PK)
Brian Moorman (P)
Steve Tasker (Gunner)
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2007
Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame
J. H. Johnson
Wide receivers /