The Buffalo Bills have drafted over sixty running backs throughout their history. With all of those running backs selected two have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The first being O.J. Simpson, selected first overall in the 1969 draft. The second was Thurman Thomas, selected 40th overall in the 1988 draft.
In my opinion, Thurman was the best running back the Bills have ever selected. In his career, Thurman Thomas rushed for 12,704 yards with a career average of 4.2 yards. He also had 4,458 yards receiving with a whopping 9.4 yards a reception. If Thurman caught the ball, there was a really good chance he was going to get you a first down. Number 34 was a 5 time pro bowler from 1989-1993 and received first team all pro for the ’90 and ’91 season. The Buffalo great is also the only player in NFL history to lead the league in total yards of scrimmage. He accomplished this from 1989-92 winning the MVP in 1991.
O.J. also had a fantastic career. What separates the two great running backs is Thurman’s personality and fan interaction. One day in 1995, during training camp, a couple friends and I where waiting for the players to come out of practice. I had a friend that really wanted Thurman’s autograph. Growing up in Fredonia, I knew the in and outs of the college campus. I noticed Thurman’s truck near a side door and figured he would be sneaking out that door on that day. We waited by the door for Thurman to come out. About ten minutes later Thurman and his father came strolling out that door. Thurman was stunned that we were waiting there and didn’t want to sign autographs because his father was in town and he wanted to spend time with him. The elder Thomas stopped his son and told him ” these are your fans, this is why you are here. You have plenty of time to spend with me.”
Thurman and his father stuck around for an hour, both signing memorabilia for fans and interacting with them. They both did this with big smiles on their faces and seemed to enjoy it. To this day, Thurman Thomas is still a staple around One Bills Drive. He is always interacting with fans on Twitter or around the City of Buffalo. This is why I believe Thurman Thomas was the best running back ever selected by the Buffalo Bills.