The night of February 11, 2000..I remember I was at a bar in Canada called Daily Planet (great name right..), and I was chilling on a black leather couch talking to a random girl (yes some of us computer nerds do have game). In the mists of my make out session, I looked up at the TV and the ESPN Bottom Line said, “Bills cut Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas, and Bruce Smith.” All of a sudden I didn’t care what this girl looked like and quickly ran looking for my best friend. When I found my friend and told him the news, it was as if we had just been in some movie where a life changing situation had occurred. Just utter shock. It was the first time that the NFL provided a new vocabulary word, cap casualty. I’m sure Packer fans will all remember where they were when they saw Brett Favre was retiring (and un-retiring).
Thurman is reeled in by the Fish
Shortly after the purge, Thomas was in negotiations with the hated Dolphins and eventually signed with them. Now you may be saying, “so what? he signed with a new team because the Bills didn’t want him anymore, that crap happens all the time, Bret Favre is still a prima donna.” Yes, Favre is a prima donna and has carried out this where is he going to play to a new extreme. It’s like the Obama’s deciding what type of dog they are going to adopt. But where the similarities begin is the fact that Thomas wanted revenge against his old team. He went out of his way to take less money to play for the Dolphins because he desperately wanted to show Mr. Wilson that he made a huge mistake in cutting him. And what better place then Miami to go where the Bills and Dolphins at that time had one of the most heated rivalry in football. Doesn’t this all ring a bell with what Brett Favre is doing?
What also didn’t help was that Thomas was one of the most angriest players that I can remember. I remember a interview I heard after a game in December of 1993 where the Bills had just lost to the Raiders. Thurman was asked if he had thought teams were catching up to the Bills and if there were issues in the locker room. Thomas was live on the radio in the locker room and started dropping “F” bomb after “F” bomb. That’s when I realized that whenever you doubted Thurman, you better get the censor button out. Thurman played with a chip on his shoulder. That chip soon became a meteor after being cut by the Bills.
Dolphins vs Bills
It was week 6 of the 2000 season and it was Thurman’s first and only game against his former team. The Dolphins won the game 22-13, but that wasn’t the story. I remember the game because of Thurman and the way he was acting. Thomas only touched the ball 10 times for 50 yards. But the stat line doesn’t tell the story about how Thurman played. The dude was HYPED! angry, whatever word you wanted to use. He would get up after a 7 yard gain and start talking trash to John Holecek. I’m not trying to make this game sound as if it was vintage Thurman Thomas 1992, but I can’t remember a time seeing him or another player get so worked up or angry after gaining 5 yards on a run. It was Thurman’s best day in the sun that year, 3 weeks later Thomas blew out his knee and his career was over.
The Favre/Thomas Correlation
So what we got here are two players who were sent packing by the teams that they had been with for the majority of their careers. The teams they played for that gave so many memories to their fans. Both players felt they were unjustly thrown out to pasture. Both players were then hell bent on getting revenge against their old bosses. Both players (Favre on the verge) went out of their ways to sign with their former teams arch nemeses. Revenge is profitable, but gratitude is expensive and these two wanted both.
Why will Favre’s legacy not be tarnished
I know some of you might be saying, “well Thurman didn’t play the cat and mouse game of retiring and acting like a girl who needed attention like Favre did.” That is true, but like all of life’s heartbreaks, time will heel all wounds. Packers fans are the same as Bills fans. They represent small town roots when it comes to their teams. When Bills fans think of Thomas, they don’t think of the 2000 season or about Thurman’s hell bent mentality to shove it to the organization. And thats the key, #34 didn’t have issue what the fans, just like Favre doesn’t. Favre may get some boos when he returns to Lambeau Field against the Packers. But 2-3 years down the line when the Packers call him up to retire old number 4, Packer Fans will wash away the last 2 years with thunderous applause at the ceremony.
“I’m stuck at work right now”