I know I have harped on his achievements before, but I think it bears repeating again.
- He made five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1989-1993
- He is the top thirty in NFL history in rushing and overall touchdowns
- He is in the top fifteen in rushes (11th), rushing yards (12th) and yards from scimmage (8th)
- He is the only player in NFL history to lead the league in yards from scrimmage in four consecutive years
- He was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year and AP NFL MVP in 1991
- He is a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team (along with Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis and Emmitt Smith)
There is more empirical, statistical proof of Thurman's excellence, of course, but to me, the intangibles will always be what I remember. Thurman was the motor that ran the Bills' K-Gun offense in the early 1990s. His superior blocking, especially on blitz pick-ups, allowed Jim Kelly a few precious extra seconds to get the ball into the hands of whatever receiver could get open. His slashing running and field vision made the Bills running game fearsome, and therefore made the passing game that much more dangerous. Thurman's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield made him the NFL's most dangerous weapon for half a decade.
The defining moment of his career, to me, was Super Bowl XXV (yes, the Scott Norwood Super Bowl), where he had 190 yards of total offense (135 rushing, including a huge 31-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter), and should have won MVP of the game, even though the Bills lost. He had the glow about him that day, and he carried the rest of the team on his shoulders. It remains one of the most gutsy performances I've seen in a Super Bowl. [Note: Thurman also had 354 total yards and 3 touchdowns in the Bills' two AFC playoff games that year.]
Many ignorant, mouth-breathing idiots like to say "Buhhh wha' 'bout the time he lost his HEL-met? Ha ha ha" before drooling all over their shirts and wiping their mucus-filled noses on their crusty sleeves. It didn't matter. He missed two plays. That Redskins team was one of the best teams of that decade and the Bills weren't going to beat them anyway. So just save your inane blathering for your speech therapist. Any person who would judge Thurman on that one moment is a mongoloid dumbshit who knows nothing about sports. At all. Don't embarass yourself.
Thurman Thomas was the most dynamic player on one of the most exciting teams of the decade, or any decade for that matter. I will now lay to rest my disappointment at the fact that he didn't make the first ballot. He's gonna be in by the end of the weekend, ugly yellow jacket and all.
Congratulations Thurman. Bruce, Andre: you're up next.
[Update: By the way, to see a fantastic season-by-season breakdown of the Buffalo Bills, go to the Bills History Index at Billszone.com.