That’s because the team announced on Wednesday that they are retiring his number 34 jersey. The ceremony will take place at halftime of the Bills’ home Monday Night Football contest against the New England Patriots in week eight of the upcoming season.
Thurman Thomas' No. 34 jersey will become the third number retired in franchise history when the Bills take on the Patriots (Monday, Oct. 29).
— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) May 16, 2018
Buffalo Bills to Retire Thurman Thomas’ Jersey Number
Thomas is the franchise’s all-time leader in career rushing yardage (11,938), attempts (2,849) and touchdowns (65). He played 12 of his 13 seasons in the league with the Bills, spending his final year with the Miami Dolphins. All in all, he finished with 12,074 career rushing yards which rank 16th in NFL history. Only two active players, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson, have more.
Born in Houston, TX, the Bills took Thomas in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft. It came after a standout career at Oklahoma State where he rushed for 4,847 yards, a mark that remains a school record. Thomas was college teammates with another legendary running back in Barry Sanders during the 1986 and 1987 seasons. The two combined for 3,282 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns in that time.
On eight consecutive occasions did Thomas eclipse the 1,000-yard mark during his NFL career. It’s a feat that only four other running backs, Sanders, Curtis Martin, Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson achieved during their careers. He also excelled as part of the Bills passing game, finishing with 500 or more receiving yards four times. It included a stellar 1991 campaign when he rushed for 1,407 yards and added a career-high 631 receiving yards. Thomas won NFL MVP and offensive player of the year honors that season, the second of Buffalo’s four Super Bowl appearances.
Thomas’ pass-catching exploits as part of the Bills’ K-Gun offense under Jim Kelly were on full display during the playoffs. In his 21 postseason appearances, Thomas racked up 672 yards receiving. His 76 playoff receptions are best all-time for a running back and fourth all-time overall.
Thomas is a five-time Pro Bowler and earned first-team All-Pro accolades in 1989, 1990, and 1991. He joined Kelly in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and, along with 2009 Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Smith, will become just the third player to have his jersey retired by the Bills. It’s a welcome announcement considering Thomas is celebrating his 52nd birthday on Wednesday.