The legendary Buffalo Bills running back who starred in their four AFC Championship teams between 1991 and 1994.
Thurman Lee Thomas was born in Houston, Texas on May 16th, 1966. He played high school football for Willowridge High School in Missouri City, Texas, where he earned All-State and Player-of-the-Year honors his senior year.
He went on to become a standout at Oklahoma State University (1984-87), the final two years starring in a backfield that included eventual Heisman Trophy winner and NFL great Barry Sanders (imagine that rushing attack). He still holds OSU’s single game rushing record with 293 yards vs. Iowa State in 1987.
He sustained a nasty knee injury during his junior year (while playing basketball) that hindered him most of the season and eventually required arthroscopic surgery. Despite a strong senior outing, the injury scared off many NFL scouts, allowing him to slip to the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the draft (40th selection overall). The following Nobody running backs were selected before him:
#14 Gaston Green (Rams)
#17 Joseph Stevens (Patriots)
#23 Brad Muster (Bears)
#38 Tony Jeffery (Cards)
Proving, once again, that NFL scouts know diddly.
He led the Bills in rushing his rookie year with 881 yards on 207 carries, then proceeded to lead the AFC in rushing three times (1990-91, 1993). In 1991, he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player after leading the league in total yards from scrimmage (2038), the AFC in rushing (1407), and scoring 13 touchdowns.
Thurman is married to wife Patti and has three daughters, Olivia, Angelica, and Annika. In 1999 Buffalo released him for salary cap reasons, and he spent his final year with the Miami Dolphins. He offically retired as a Buffalo Bill after the 2000 season.
Many non-Bills fans remember him most for missing the opening series of Superbowl XXVI (vs. the Washington Redskins) because he couldn't find his helmet (he found it in time for the next offensive series). In an admirable display of character, Thomas jokingly pretended to find it during the post-game interview, after the Bills had lost their second straight Superbowl.
Thurman Thomas' Career Stats:
897 rush attempts for 4,595 yards and 43 TDs.
2877 rush attempts for 12,074 yards (4.2 yards per rush) and 65 touchdowns.
472 receptions for 4458 yards (9.4 yards per catch) and 23 touchdowns.