Thomas to retire as member of the Bills

Thursday, March 1st 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ Running back Thurman Thomas will get his chance to retire as a member of the Buffalo Bills.

Thomas, the Bills' all-time leading rusher, will sign a one-day contract and then announce his retirement, Bills spokesman Mark Dalton said Tuesday.

The Bills scheduled a news conference with Thomas for later in the day.

Thomas, who will turn 35 in May, spent 12 seasons with the Bills before he was released for salary cap reasons a year ago. He was used primarily as a third-down back by the Miami Dolphins last season before sustaining a season-ending knee injury against San Diego on Nov. 12.

Released last week by the Dolphins, Thomas briefly contemplated continuing playing before electing to retire.

Thomas will finish his career with 12,074 yards rushing, ninth on the all-time list and just 46 yards behind Franco Harris. Thomas also is sixth in all-purpose yards.

His 86 touchdowns and 522 points are tied with Andre Reed for third in Bills' history.

Besides appearing in four straight Super Bowls with the Bills, the former second-round draft pick was the only player to lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage over four consecutive seasons (1989-92).

While Thomas was not immediately available for comment, last month his agent Leigh Steinberg confirmed the player's intentions.

``He's really decided that it's best to go out on top, that he's had a long and great career, and it probably makes sense to hang 'em up,'' Steinberg said. ``His desire is to retire as a Buffalo Bill, after the long and successful career that he had there. ... That seems right to him.''

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