Today in Patriots History
June 21 is highlighted by the birth date of a player who is center stage on of the more bizarre anecdotes in Patriots franchise history.
Happy 74th birthday to Duane Thomas
Born June 21, 1947 in Dallas
Patriot RB, 1971 off season
Acquired in a trade with Dallas on July 31, 1971
As a rookie in Dallas, Duane Thomas took over for Calvin Hill at running back and was named Rookie of the Year, leading the league with an average of 5.3 yards per carry. He then became the first rookie to ever rush for 100 yards in consecutive playoff games, gaining 278 yards on the ground against the Lions and 49ers. The following year Thomas refused to report to training camp, holding out to have his contract renegotiated. On July 31 Dallas traded Thomas, Halvor Hagen and Honor Jackson to the Patriots in exchange for Carl Garrett and the Pats first round 1972 draft pick.
"Before the first Super Bowl, I asked him how it felt to be playing as a rookie in the ultimate game. He said, `If this is the ultimate game, how come they play it every year?' "
At first Thomas could not be found to be notified of the trade. Then on the second day of practice he refused to get in to a 3-point stance, later explaining "I was in a two-point stance because it gives a better view of a handoff. I was behind Jim Nance, and I couldn't see. His ass was the size of a volleyball court."
John Mazur ordered him off the field, then claimed Thomas didn't pass his physical. A few days later Pete Rozelle stepped in and voided the trade, sending Thomas and Garrett back to their former teams. Despite holding out for three games, Thomas proceeded to lead the NFL with 13 total touchdowns and 11 rushing touchdowns in 1971. He scored a TD in each of Dallas' three playoff games and rushed for 95 yards on 19 carries in the 24-3 super bowl victory over Miami.
Thomas was reportedly voted the MVP in the 24-3 Super Bowl VI win over Miami, but after having boycotted the media all season due to what he felt was one sided and erroneous reporting on his contract dispute, the decision was allegedly made to give the award to Roger Staubach instead, in order to avoid another potentially awkward interview.
Duane Thomas played in more postseason games (6) than season sin the NFL (4), despite leading the league in yards per carry as a rookie (5.3) and leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns (11) and total touchdowns (13) the following year. He was traded to San Diego in 1972, suspended for failing to report, and was ended up not playing the entire season. Thomas was traded to Washington but didn't do much there, then was released in 1975 after once again failing to report after seeking an increase in pay. Thomas never played another down in the NFL after that.
In the 25 years since he retired from the NFL, former running back Duane Thomas has tried acting, various jobs in sales and hosting a sports talk-radio
Found on YouTube: Duane Thomas' classic interview with CBS's Tom Brookshier after Super Bowl VI.
Ex-Cowboy Duane Thomas had one word for late commentator Brookshier
Flashback: Like Marshawn Lynch, Cowboys' Duane Thomas was also a Super Bowl media challenge
Why the best runner in pro football ran right out of the game.
Even as free spirit, Cowboys RB still relishes the concept of team Some running backs...