Thurman Lee Thomas grew up in Houston, Texas, where he led Willowridge High School to a state title. He decided to head up to Oklahoma State University to play college football for the Cowboys.
How good of a football player was Thomas in college? He kept an underclassmen named Barry Sanders on the bench. While Thomas' 1986 season was hindered by a knee injury, in 1985 and 1987 he was an All-American and the Offensive Player of the Year in the Big Eight. This success led to Thomas being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
That knee injury gave the National Football League pause, however. He fell to the second round (40th overall) in the 1988 NFL Draft. There, the Buffalo Bills snatched up Thomas with their first pick of the draft. Joining forces with quarterback Jim Kelly and wide receiver Andre Reed, Thomas helped turn the Bills under Marv Levy into perhaps the best football team in New York State.
Thomas had a solid rookie year, but it's the stretch from 1989 through 1993 that he really dominated the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl in all five of those seasons and was either first- or second-team All-Pro in all five of those campaigns as well.
The only player in NFL history to lead the league in total yards from scrimmage for four straight seasons? Hall of Fame RB @ThurmanThomas.
— NFL (@NFL) May 16, 2020
In 1990, 1991 and 1993, he led the AFC in rushing yards and in 1991 was both the Offensive Player of the Year and the MVP. That being said, it was in 1990 that he had the only double-digit touchdown campaign of his career.
Of course, when we are talking the Bills of Thomas' era, we have to talk about the infamous NFL history they made. From 1990 through 1993 the Bills won four-straight AFC Championship Games.
That led them to four consecutive Super Bowls. All that playoff success did not yield the big win, though. The Bills lost all four Super Bowls, which overshadows the fact they are the only team to ever appear in four Super Bowls in a row.
Thomas played with the Bills through 1999, and then he tried to keep his career going with the Miami Dolphins. He only played nine games with the Dolphins, though, getting a mere 28 carries. Thomas retired in 2001 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Thurman Thomas Wife & Kids
View this post on Instagram
Thurman Thomas will have his number retired tonight.
His family has a special message for their legendary running back, son, husband, and dad. ??? pic.twitter.com/UgAfj0HADT
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) October 29, 2018
When Thomas was at Oklahoma State, he met Patti Mariacher, a member of the school's golf team. Spoiler alert: She would become Patti Thomas.
Thurman and his wife Patti are still together and have four children: Olivia, Angel, Annika and Thurman III. We don't know for sure if Thomas kept having kids until he got to have that son.
Here's the kicker: Patti is a Buffalo native. That means when Thomas was drafted by the Bills it was a homecoming for her. Thus, the Hall of Famer and his family have settled down in Western New York. He may not have won a Super Bowl ring, but Thomas has gotten just about everything else he could want out of life it would seem.
View this post on Instagram
Enjoy all things sports?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.