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Thurman Thomas & His Wife Still Call Buffalo Home
AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes (left), Screenshot from YouTube (right)

Thurman Thomas is a Buffalo legend. However, there’s a reason he stuck around western New York beyond the fact he spent the majority of his NFL career there.

It’s where the running back’s family has made their home, and his wife is a big reason for that. Here’s the story of how Thomas became as synonymous with Upstate New York as Niagara Falls.

Football Career

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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.

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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.

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Thurman Thomas Wife & Kids

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A post shared by Patti Thomas (@patticakes34)

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.

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A post shared by Patti Thomas (@patticakes34)

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Chris Morgan About the author:
Chris Morgan is a Michigan-based writer and a Detroit sports fan who has written about sports and pop culture for a variety of outlets, including a book about Mystery Science Theater 3000 and '90s Nickelodeon. He's happy to complain about the Lions with you anytime.
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