NFL Hall-of-Famers and former Bills Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas stop by Lockport
By Joe Olenick Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
The Boudemans are familiar with the Buffalo Bills to say the least.
Last December, Drew Boudeman was a finalist in the Buffalo Bills Punt, Pass & Kick Team Championship at Ralph Wilson Stadium. His father Scott, himself a Punt, Pass & Kick finalist 38 years ago, has been a Bills fan for years. And that includes the glory years of the early 90s, when the Bills made it to four consecutive Super Bowls.
The Newfane family of four, dressed in Bills gear, was among the many who stopped by the Bewley Building on Wednesday to meet former Bills greats Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas.
“It’s a good family thing,” Scott said.
The Hall-of-Famers visited Lockport to sign autographs Wednesday, an event that benefited the Niagara County Deputy Sheriff’s Association Corrections and Dispatchers’ Union’s Scholarship Fund. The NCDSA’s Scholarship Fund annually awards three $1,000 scholarships to local students.
But the Fund’s goal this year is a little bigger, said Jeff Newman, the NCDSA union president.
“We want to give one out to every school in the county,” he said.
Wednesday’s turnout was a good one, which is what the union usually sees with such events, Newman said. The NCDSA hosted running back Fred Jackson and former greats Joe Delamielleure and Andre Reed last year.
A line of people had formed along Market Street about a half an hour before Kelly or Thomas arrived. For Thomas, the fact fans were still eager to see him felt good. Especially if they’re wearing his old 34.
”We’re still known around here,” Thomas laughed. “We’re still a big deal. It’s always good to see that.”
And Thomas is no stranger to the Lockport area. His son Thurman plays in the Boys of Summer travel baseball tournament, which will go this week in Lockport.
”I come out here at least twice a week,” Thomas said. “If they have games, four or five times a week.”
Kelly was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002 in his first year of eligibility. Thomas was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007 and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
Thomas still holds the Bills’ all-time rushing record with 11,938 yards and the team record for yards from scrimmage with 16,279 over 12 years.
So what’s the bigger thrill, playing in the Super Bowl or being inducted into the Hall of Fame? They’re both huge accomplishments, Thomas said.
”I think, growing up where I did in Houston, it was more team-oriented,” Thomas said. “When you look at the Hall of Fame, it’s more of an individual thing. So, yeah you want to win as a team, but both of them bring different value to what you accomplish.”
Thomas said he received a text recently from newly-inducted wide receiver Cris Carter. The former Viking said making it into the Hall is a huge deal. Over 25,000 players and coaches have been in the National Football League, but only 280 made it to Canton, Ohio, where the Hall is located.
People who lined up Wednesday brought all kinds of items for the duo to sign, such as hats, pictures and jerseys. The Boudemans also got a picture with Kelly, fitting because Drew will be attending the quarterback’s football camp this summer.