August 06, 2007

Props Out To Thurmo

Thurman Thomas - "The Thurmonator" - was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. As a Buffalo Bills fan that endured four straight Super Bowl losses in the early 90's with Thurmo in the backfield, I've got to show him some love.

It's true. I'm a Buffalo Bills fan. I know, "Bills" stands for "Boy I Love Losing Super Bowl's." I've heard it before. Get it out of your system.

Finished? Great.

There hasn't been a lot of football commentary at, so before I get to Thurmon Thomas, I'll share with you the story of how I became a Buffalo Bills fan.

I followed a couple of friends. They were Bills fans. That's it. I was young, I didn't need a good reason. It seemed like a logical choice at the time.

As I grew older, I justified aligning my football allegiance with the hideous city of Buffalo because it was the closest NFL city, geographically, to Toronto.

Thurman Thomas was my favourite running back growing up. I loved those Bills teams and every time they made the Super Bowl (from 1991 to 1994), I truly believed they would win them. All of them. By 1994, even just one of them. It was heartbreaking. Absolutely devastating. To make it to the ultimate game four seasons in a row, and lose each one? Wow. It still hurts. If there is such thing as a "loser complex", the city of Buffalo owns it. They've copyrighted it.

Thurmo, a five-time Pro Bowler, was dominating in the backfield in the early 90's. Along with Jim Kelly, they dominated the AFC. It was fun to watch.

Thomas, the leading rusher in Buffalo Bills' franchise history, finished with 16,532 yards from scrimmage, which ranks 8th all-time in the NFL. His 12,074 rushing yards rank 12th all-time in the league's books. Thurmo is also the only player to ever lead the league in total yards from scrimmage for four consecutive seasons.

There's more. He's also the only man to ever score a touchdown in four consecutive Super Bowl's. Trust me, the guy was good.

What makes Thomas' story even more special is the fact that he wasn't supposed to have such an illustrious career. He wasn't a "can't miss prospect" out of college. He was a projected first-round draft pick, but a knee injury caused him to slip to the second round, where the Bills were more than happy to draft him. But Thomas worked hard and set out to prove his doubters wrong, because that's how he rolled.

Legendary coach and Hall of Famer Marv Levy praised Thurmo at his induction ceremony. "On a team with many stars, never did I hear a complaint from (Thomas) about 'Not getting the ball enough,'" said Levy, who called Thomas, "One of the most unselfish players I have ever known."

Thurmo's induction brought back a lot of memories of those great Bills teams. Jim Kelly at the helm, Thurmo in the backfield, Andre Reed at wide receiver, Steve Tasker on special teams, and Canadian Steve Christie kicking field goals. Who can forget Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett? Rudey's, all of them.

The 1991 season was the finest hour of Thurmo's career, and he was named the league's MVP. In the 1991 Super Bowl against the New York Giants, Thomas rushed for 135 yards and one touchdown, along with 55 yards on five receptions. It was the game of his dreams. But it turned into a nightmare.

Super Bowl XXV. 1991. January 27th. Tampa Stadium. Two words:

Wide Right.

Scott Norwood shanked the winning field goal, the Bills lost 20-19, and it was the closest - two points - they would ever come to touching the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

I wonder what Scott Norwood is doing with his life. I wonder if he dreams about that field goal. I wonder how often he thinks about it. I wonder if he's gone completely nuts like Ray Finkle in Ace Ventura Pet Detective. Laces out man, laces out.

Thurman Thomas is now immortalized forever in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and rightly so. He and the rest of his Buffalo teammates weren't able to get their hands on a Super Bowl ring, but Thomas is now the proud new owner of a Hall of Fame ring, one I'm sure he will wear with immense pride.

Although I hate everything about the city of Buffalo, their football team remains a part of my youth. I'll never forget those trips to the Super Bowl and the losses to the Giants, Redskins, and those damn Dallas Cowboys. Those losses, however, can't cover up all the good the Bills, and Thurmon Thomas, accomplished. Most important of all, though - I'll never forget #34 Thurmon Thomas.

Thanks Thurmo. You left me, and an entire generation of Buffalo Bills fans, with some great memories. Props out to Thurmon Thomas, one of the best running backs to suit up in the NFL.