Monday, February 8, 2016

Forgotten Superstars-Duane Thomas

We return to the forgotten superstars' universe with one of the most controversial players of his time and for a brief two-year window was one of the most exciting backs to run the football in Duane Thomas.

Duane Thomas is remembered by most for a tenure that saw bizarre behavior such as refusing to speak.
As in at all.
We live in an age where athletes will at times refuse to speak to the media, but in the early 70s, such behavior was downright shocking.
Considering the shunning of the media and add that Thomas refused to speak to his teammates or members of the coaching staff and that was likely the act of a heretic in 1971.

Thomas and his act wore out so quickly in Dallas that after his rookie of the year season in 1970, Thomas and two other players were traded to the Patriots for running back Carl Garrett and the Patriots' number one pick.
Pete Rozelle then made a decision that hasn't been made since- Thomas and Garrett were returned to back to their original teams because Thomas refused to talk to or acknowledge Patriots coach John Mazur!
New England got Garrett and their top pick but kept the other two players by sending Dallas their second and third-rounders.
Can you imagine a trade being voided for a reason like that today?

Thomas had rolled up over 800 yards in 1970, averaged 5.3 yards per carry, and accomplished these numbers despite only starting eight of the Cowboy's fourteen games.
Thomas returned to Dallas and rushed for just ten yards less than in 1971 despite playing in three fewer games (he carried the ball 24 more times though-finishing with a still good 4.5 YPC) and led the league with eleven rushing touchdowns.
Thomas should have been the Super Bowl MVP in the Dallas win over Miami and reportedly was the winner in the voting, but Sport Magazine, which then gave the award (and car) was supposedly concerned about how Thomas would behave if he even would show up for the ceremony and gave the award instead to Roger Staubach.

Thomas never played another game for Dallas as he was traded to San Diego, where he would dress for one pre-season game, didn't play, and would sit out the 1973 season.
San Diego traded him to Washington, where he put together two pedestrian seasons that were most noted for one Thanksgiving game against-you guessed it, the Cowboys where he scored two touchdowns and would have been the talk of the league had not Dallas won the game on the immortal Clint Longley's bomb to Drew Pearson to win the game with seconds to go 24-23.
Thomas would leave Washington to play the 1975 season with Honolulu of the World Football League, which would fold in the middle of the 1975 season.

It's too bad that Thomas is remembered more for his personality than his running because he was one beautiful runner to watch,
Thomas could run over people but had a way of gliding that made it seem like he was about to be tackled and suddenly turned a hip and moved away.
The closest thing I've seen to Thomas in style was Gale Sayers.
Barry Sanders had some similarities, but Thomas was so much bigger than Sanders.
Watching Thomas run made me think of watching the water roll over a waterfall and then flow around the rocks on the river floor.
Just an awesome runner to watch.
Check the Youtube at 12 minutes for some Thomas highlights.

Comets tend to burn brightly and then flame out quickly and the career of Duane Thomas was exactly that, but for those that watched him run (and still can through YouTube), he was a tough back to forget...

Welcome, Duane Thomas to the forgotten superstars' universe...

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