Rodney Thomas - NFL

NFL

Thomas was elected by the Houston Oilers in third round (89th pick overall) of the 1995 NFL draft. As a rookie, he was one of only 19 players in the AFC to finish with 1,000 or more combined yards from scrimmage (1,151 total - 947 rushing and 204 receiving). Thomas' rushing total was, at the time, the second only to Earl Campbell in rookie rushing totals in Oiler history.

In spite of his stellar rookie campaign, Thomas was relegated to backup and special teams roles the following season when the Oilers selected 1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George with their No. 1 pick in the draft. In 1996, Thomas carried just 49 times for 151 yards. And in 1997, he gained 310 rushing yards on 67 carries. In 1998 his total continued to decline (just 24 carries for 100 yards) as George became a star in the league, leaving little playing time for Thomas. In spite of this, Thomas continued to be a team player, thriving in his role and never showing public displeasure, staying with the Oilers as they moved to Tennessee and turning down offers from other teams that would have been more lucrative and where he could have come out of George's shadow. He spent two more seasons with the Tennessee Titans playing a backup role on the field, but providing leadership both on and off the field with his unparalleled work ethic and outstanding character. In 1999, the Titans made it to Super Bowl XXXIV in which Thomas appeared as a substitute, however they lost to the Kurt Warner-led St. Louis Rams.

He signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. He played in 12 games for the Falcons that year, and finished with 37 carries for 126 yards and caught two passes for 26 yards. For his career, Thomas played in 103 games and rushed 532 times for 1,973 yards and 12 touchdowns. Thomas was waived by the Falcons before the 2002 preseason and subsequently retired from football.

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