Better late than never: Bills announce they're retiring Thurman Thomas' number

Shutdown Corner

We’re going to share something, and if you’re like us your reaction will likely be, “Wait, really?”

The Buffalo Bills announced on Wednesday that they will retire legendary running back Thurman Thomas’ No. 34 on Oct. 29, when the team hosts the New England Patriots for “Monday Night Football.”

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Yes, it has taken this long for the Bills to do something you’d assume had been done years ago.

The announcement was made on Thomas’ 52nd birthday. Thomas said he’s “overwhelmed” by the news.

The Buffalo Bills announced on Wednesday that they’re retiring running back Thurman Thomas’ No. 34 in October. (AP)
The Buffalo Bills announced on Wednesday that they’re retiring running back Thurman Thomas’ No. 34 in October. (AP)

Elite company

Thomas will be just the third player in Buffalo Bills history to have his number retired, joining two men he played with for years: quarterback Jim Kelly and defensive end Bruce Smith.

Though Buffalo is making things official this year, Thomas’ No. 34 hasn’t been worn by another Bills player since he stopped playing for the team in 1999 (Thomas spent the 2000 season, his last in the NFL, with the Miami Dolphins).

Yardage machine

The 40th overall pick of the 1988 draft out of Oklahoma State, Thomas became an integral part of the Bills’ offense immediately. He totaled 1,089 yards from scrimmage in 15 starts as a rookie.

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Thomas took off in 1989. He totaled 1,244 rushing yards and added 669 receiving yards; his 1,913 yards from scrimmage led the NFL – and he’d do it again in 1990, 1991 and 1992, the only man in league history to win the yards from scrimmage title four consecutive seasons.

No other player has done it more than two years in a row.

Thomas was a five-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro and the 1991 NFL Most Valuable Player. Despite retiring nearly 20 years ago, he is still 10th all-time in career yards from scrimmage (16,532).

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility, in 2007.

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