Bills' Thomas runs away to AP honor HHC

December 30, 1991

Once, there were doubts about Thurman Thomas. Was he big enough to make it in the NFL? What shape were his knees in? Could he catch the ball?

Now, the only question about Thomas seems to be, "What can't he do?"

The Buffalo Bills running back was selected yesterday as the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in voting conducted by The Associated Press. Thomas was a runaway winner over teammate Jim Kelly in balloting by 82 media members.

For the third straight year, Thomas led the NFL in combined rushing and receiving yards. His 2,038 yards from scrimmage this year gives him 5,780 over the past three seasons.

"He's a devastating player," said Kelly, perhaps Thomas' biggest admirer. "I haven't seen anybody able to stop him yet."

Thomas won the AFC rushing title, even though he sat out the final game with an ankle injury. His 1,407 yards ranked third in the NFL.

He tied with Miami's Mark Clayton for the AFC touchdown lead with 12. His 62 receptions tied with Philadelphia's Keith Byars for most by any running back, and his 631 yards receiving beat all players at his position.

While Thomas might get lots of credit from his teammates, coaches and opposing players who find it impossible to stop him, he still feels under-appreciated.

"I think what probably would make me happy is, with this year getting a lot of awards, and hopefully next year and the year after, that will probably satisfy me and probably earn me the respect I think I deserve," he said.

* CHARGERS: Georgia Tech coach Bobby Ross says he expects some of the school's recruits may be waiting to see whether he takes a new job as head coach for San Diego.

"If I were in their shoes and there was concern whether a coach was going to be there, then I would probably think about it before I made any type of commitment," Ross said Saturday.

"There are those who select schools and not the people. And then there are those who select football programs and facilities."

Ross also said Saturday he expects to make a decision about the Chargers' vacant head coaching job within a few days.

* CHIEFS: All-Pro linebacker Derrick Thomas was released from a Kansas City, Mo., hospital after being treated for the same non-threatening heart ailment that afflicted President Bush last spring.

Thomas, suffering an accelerated heartbeat, was taken to St. Luke's Hospital during the second quarter of the Chiefs' AFC wild-card game against the Los Angeles Raiders Saturday.

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