Greatest Player: Thurman Thomas
Everyone will associate the no-huddle “K-gun” offense of the Buffalo Bills with Jim Kelly, but it was Thurman Thomas that truly made those Bills offenses so formidable. His ability to both run the football, and provide an uncoverable pass-catching threat out of the backfield, made that offense run. Thomas had four consecutive seasons with more than 50 receptions, which helped him lead the league in total yards from scrimmage in those years as well. After the 1991 season, he was named the league’s Most Valuable Player, after becoming the 11th player in NFL history to finish a season with over 2,000 all-purpose yards.
He is one of only six running backs to have over 400 receptions and 10,000 yards rushing, and currently 12th on the NFL all-time list for most rushing yards in a career. During his 11 years with the Buffalo Bills, he went to five Pro Bowls, and was named to the All-Pro team five times. He became a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 2006.
Runner Up: Bruce Smith
Many football fans — outside of the northeastern part of the United States, anyway — tend to overlook the fact that no NFL player in history has accumulated more sacks than Bruce Smith (since the statistic began being measured in 1982). After being taken with the first overall pick of the 1985 NFL Draft, Smith pulled down opposing quarterbacks 200 times over the course of his 19-year NFL career.
Playing for the Buffalo Bills for 15 of his 19 NFL seasons, he recorded double-digit sacks in 13 of those 15 seasons. Smith was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, four-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year, and eight-time First-Team All-Pro selection.