Thurman Thomas Buffalo Bills & Miami Dolphins
"I think what got me to the top was that my last two years in college, I had to work really hard to get my game to where I wanted it to be because I had a guy behind me whose name was Barry Sanders. With him being behind me and not wanting him to take my job, if he ran 10 100-yard sprints, I had to run 11. Just to keep that edge. I think that helped me once I got into the pros."
Thurman Thomas slipped to the second round of the 1988 National Football League Draft due to concern about a knee injury he had suffered during his senior year at Oklahoma State. The Buffalo Bills, who had no first round pick that year, selected Thomas, an All-America running back, in the second round with the 40th overall pick.
In 1989, after an impressive rookie season that included a division title for the Bills, the multi-dimensional Thomas rushed for 1,000 yards, caught 60 passes, and scored 12 touchdowns in his second season.
His ability to catch the ball as well as run with it was a key ingredient to the Bills' "No Huddle" offensive attack. The team improved to 13-3 in 1990 as Thomas led the NFL in all-purpose yards. He rushed for 1,297 yards and scored 11 touchdowns while catching 49 passes for 532 yards and two touchdowns. With the versatile back leading the way, the Bills marched through the playoffs to the first of their unprecedented four straight Super Bowl berths.
Thomas rushed for 100 yards in each of the playoff games that post-season including Super Bowl XXV when he gained 135 yards on just 15 carries and scored on a 31-yard run early in the fourth quarter. He also had 5 receptions for 55 yards.
In 1991, Thomas amassed more than 2,000 all-purpose yards, just the 11th player ever to do so. His league-leading yardage output included 1,407 yards on the ground and an additional 631 yards on a career-high 62 receptions. He scored 12 touchdowns. He reached the 2,000-yard total again the following season which marked a record fourth straight season of leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage.
Named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s, Thomas was selected first- or second-team All-Pro and All-AFC five times, and was voted to the Pro Bowl five straight years. Thomas retired as the NFL's ninth ranked rusher with 12,074 yards and added another 4,458 yards on 472 catches. He scored 65 rushing and 23 receiving touchdowns in his 13-season career.