Pepsi® teamed up with Buffalo Bills legend RB Thurman Thomas to help bring the Bills tailgate experience to Bills Mafia this season. Thurman sat down with Buffalo Rumblings contributor Kyle Trimble to discuss the Pepsi® marketing campaign, his career, and the 2020 Bills.
Read on to find out how you can enter to have Thurman come to your house.
Note: Interview has been edited for context and clarity—and the transcript follows in full just below the podcast info.
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Kyle: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me today.
Thurman: Absolutely, I appreciate it, thanks for the time.
Kyle: I got some different questions for you, I’m going to bounce around a little bit, but I’m going to focus on the Bills and the marketing campaign.
Thurman: Ok, no problem.
Kyle: Tell me a little bit about the marketing campaign. What’s the most impressive or unique feature on the Bills tailgate truck?
Thurman: Wow, just the truck in itself is just amazing. From just looking on the outside, you have the Buffalo, the big buffalo head, on the inside, it has a refrigerator and seats, it has everything you want and it really is an amazing truck. I’m glad I got a chance to tape some things in it and got a chance to see it first hand. Pepsi® did a great job of really just putting this together, I can’t wait until it comes out.
I think Bills fans knowing what might be ahead that we might not be able to tailgate, I think this is a great way that Pepsi® and I came together and we’re going to really make the tailgating fans kind of remember it, even if we have to come by their house, that’s kind of what we’re doing. We’re going to pick three lucky winners to have a chance to have the Pepsi® truck come to their house. There’s a lot of merchandise that I signed, a helmet, a football, a jersey, all signed by me. It’s going to be an exciting time and hopefully, I think it will go well.
Kyle: Very cool. Describe the type of Bills fan that you would like to see win the chance to go on the truck?
Thurman: You know what? I think the type of Bills fan, they’re all kind of the same, kind of (laughs). I haven’t been to a lot of people’s houses in the last couple years, but I know some of these houses that are really decked out. A lot of these guys have man caves, Buffalo Bills mailboxes, their door, everything. I want to try to get to a family that has had generations of Bills fans, 4-5 generations of Bills fans. I know some fans have been generational fans, but every now and then they’ll sneak a Patriot in there or something. But I would like to see a family that had generational Bills fans growing throughout.
To see the Bills tailgate truck in all its glory, check out the video below!
Kyle: I like that answer! A little background on me, I’m a Physical Therapist, so this is where this question comes from. It’s said that you played your whole career with a torn ACL all the way back from your time at Oklahoma State. How’s that knee feeling all those years later?
Thurman: It actually feels great! (laughs) Actually, I have more problems with my right knee which I tore my last year in the league with the Miami Dolphins. I have more problems with that one than I do with my left one which I tore back in… 1986. I’ve never had a problem with it. I was actually thinking that one of these days, I want to get a scope, just to kind of get a look at it and see what it’s like because I haven’t had problems with it since 1986 when I tore it. But right now it feels great, I do a lot of walking, I do a lot of exercise. I’ve been one of those guys that have been able to stay in shape and just not in football shape but just been able to stay in shape and my knee is a big part of that and I still do actually work on it.
Kyle: I love that answer. Going into this year’s team, what elements of your game do you see in Devin Singletary and Zack Moss?
Thurman: Man, I tell you what. I haven’t really actually thought about or what those guys do better. I haven’t seen Zack yet, I’ve seen it in college, I haven’t seen how he will produce in the pros, but I’m anxious to see how he does. I think with Devin Singletary, man he’s just, he’s awesome. Even though he’s 5’6”, 5’7”, I don’t really actually know how tall he is, but the time that he played last year was really great. He did a lot of great things. Missed some games, so I’m looking forward for him to really expand in his game, catch lot of passes out of the backfield. I think him and Zack will do a great job of taking a lot of pressure off Josh Allen.
You know what, I hope it comes down to where these two guys can be reminded of myself and Kenny Davis when we were here. Two quality backs, I really think that will be an awesome plan to have in the backfield with Josh Allen having those two guys taking pressure off Josh Allen’s shoulders. But from what I looked at, Josh looks great from what I hear and everything, so really excited about that. I will say though, besides the center and quarterback, the running backs touch the ball more than anybody on the football field and so they have an opportunity for a lot more plays. So I’m looking forward to those two guys.
Kyle: Awesome. For those that never got to see you play, including me because I’m a Bills fan later in life, what’s the one game you would pull up on YouTube to showcase your skills.
Thurman: The one game that I would pull up to showcase my skills for Bills fans that never got to see me play? You know that’s a tough one. But I would probably say, I think I saw it somewhere yesterday or the day before yesterday, the game against Miami Dolphins, I think it was the opening game of the year. I became the first Bills player to have over 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving. I think that game showcased what I did on the football field whether it was running the football or catching the ball or picking up a blitz up out of the backfield. That was a game that showed everything that I was as a football player.
Kyle: I would say that game definitely highlights both of your running and receiving abilities. That’s a good game, I’ll have to check that out later on.
Going back to the marketing campaign real quick, how can Pepsi® recreate the tailgate experience that us Bills fans enjoy so much? I know we’re not jumping through tables with this thing. There’s a certain element that we will be missing this year. What can Pepsi® bring that hopefully can recreate that?
Thurman: I think what Pepsi® can bring is the excitement. That they’re doing something to really help the fans this year that won’t be at the game, it’ll be at your home. I think having Pepsi® come to your home is something totally different. I think having me showing up is totally different even from a home game. Knowing that all the fans will be there at the stadium, we’re bringing the excitement and experience to your home. I think with that in itself, having them being able to bring this fantastic truck around and win prizes, they’re still keeping the excitement there for Buffalo Bills fans around. They’re really adapting to the situation we’re in now.
For your chance to have Thurman to come out to your home, go to MadeForBillsWatching.com to enter!
Kyle: I’m glad they’re able to do that! Are they going to let you keep the truck after this is all said and done?
Thurman: Ummm, we haven’t negotiated that yet! (laughs) I tell you what, if the Bills make it to the Super Bowl which is in Tampa this year, I’d drive that damn truck all the way down to Tampa!
Kyle: I would love to see that! Awesome. Just a handful more questions.
Kyle: The Bills have that awesome training center that they built for their players and we’re seeing a big difference in their ability to get back to the field. If you had that when you were playing, how much longer do you think you’re career could have lasted?
Thurman: You know what, that’s an interesting question. I think, with the way guys train today, I think that would have helped me play a little bit longer. Back when I played, it wasn’t all these bands and all these different types of stretches that they’re doing now. It was basically run and lift weights. That was it. But I do think now with the way they’re doing things now, especially over at the Bills. It really showed last year, they did not have a lot of injuries to a lot of players on their football team.
I think they got some type of an award for that and with them having everything they want over there that they use has really helped them and I think really, even with the training aspect of it, I think (head coach) Sean McDermott handled this very, very well. I mean, he’s not wearing out his players, the players are out there doing what they’re supposed to be doing. He’s letting guys take days off or not hitting every day. He’s been very instrumental in the way that they practice, how they practice. Overall, they have done a great job the past couple years just really negating all the injuries that happen over the National Football League. I think that’s why they were so successful this past year. They didn’t have a lot of serious injuries.
Kyle: If you’re available, you’re going to be able to play better. Absolutely.
Kyle: You got time for two questions left?
Kyle: So when you see Sean McDermott and obviously you played for Coach Levy, what’s one trait that you see in McDermott that says, yep, Levy could get along with this guy very well?
Thurman: Well the one trait that I always see is that he’s always smiling! He’s been fantastic, he’s been able to still communicate, I communicate with him every week during the season. He’s been a great coach for the past three years and for a guy to be here three years and then get an extension, that tells you how great of a coach he is and how he’s doing things, him and (general manager) Brandon Beane are doing things over at One Bills Drive. I love him to death, I wish him the best. I told him a couple weeks ago, the season is about to start. What better way to try and finish it up, is to be finishing it up in Tampa at the Super Bowl, where we went to our first Super Bowl and he was like, I’ve already told that to the team, I’m good, we all know it and everything.
He doesn’t miss anything. I know things started off a little shaky, people were kind of upset about things like not going for it on fourth down, but as a first-year coach, you have to learn those things over a period of time. I think every single year that he’s been a head coach, he’s been learning, he’s been learning. Right now, he’s at the point now where I think he knows it. I think the one that really helps him is that he’s had some great coaches over there. I mean, having (defensive coordinator/assistant head coach) Leslie Frazier who was a head coach, a defensive coordinator now, I think that has taken a tremendous amount of pressure off him. The coaches have been the ones that have been teaching the offense, defense, special teams. He’s hired some really good ones.
Kyle: I love that answer. I can’t add anything to it! I could talk with you for another two hours if I had the opportunity, (Thurman laughs heartily), but I got one more question for you.
You’ve been given the opportunity to play one more down of football. You’re on the five-yard line, you know the ball is coming to you for the touchdown. What play from your playbook do you run in order to get that touchdown?
Thurman: Oh, what play do I run? Wow, that’s a tough one you know. (pauses to think) Well, Jim (Kelly) would be calling the play, so it would probably be a passing play. So it would be the passing play that Jim and I ran a lot when we started running the no-huddle, it would have been Cow or Calf 65 option, which is an option route for me, one-on-one probably I guess a linebacker or secondary guy would have the option to cut to the left, cut to the right, or cut up the middle. It would have been either Cow or Calf 65 option.
Kyle: That’s pretty cool. I’m glad you knew exactly where you wanted to go with that. That was going to score every time right?
Thurman: Every time!! Every time!!
Kyle: That’s pretty much everything I had written down question wise. Is there anything else you want the fans to know about the tailgate truck that I didn’t cover?
Thurman: I think that’s it. I believe I covered everything.
Kyle: Thurman, thanks so much for letting me take the time to interview with you today.
Thurman: No problem, thanks a lot Kyle.
Kyle: Go Bills!
Thurman: Go Bills!
I would like to thank Pepsi® for granting Buffalo Rumblings and myself this incredibly unique access with Thurman Thomas. I would also like to thank Thurman for his time spent answering all my questions and for being such a gracious subject.
For your chance to have Thurman to come out to your home, go to MadeForBillsWatching.com to enter!