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J. T. Thomas (defensive back)

James Thomas Jr. (born April 22, 1951) is a former American football defensive back in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers 24th overall in the 1973 NFL draft. He played college football at Florida State. Thomas played for the Steelers between 1973 and 1981, then for the Denver Broncos in 1982.

J.T. Thomas
No. 24
Position:Defensive back
Personal information
Born: (1951-04-22) April 22, 1951 (age 68)
Macon, Georgia
Career information
College:Florida State
NFL Draft:1973 / Round: 1 / Pick: 24
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
INT yards:147
Player stats at


Thomas attended Lanier High School in Macon. After playing at Florida State, Thomas was the Steelers' first-round selection (24th overall) in the 1973 NFL draft. That year, Thomas played in all 14 regular-season games and in the Steelers' only playoff game. He recorded one interception that season.[1]

In 1974 and 1975, the Steelers won back-to-back Super Bowls.[2] In 1974, Thomas picked up a career-best five interceptions and he scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery.[1] Thomas was named to the Pro Bowl after a 1976 season in which he collected two interceptions and a fumble recovery.[1] In 1978, he sat out the season due to a blood disorder known as Boeck's sarcoid.[3]

During his time in Pittsburgh, Thomas played alongside cornerback Mel Blount. named Thomas and Blount the sixth-best cornerback combination of all time.[4]

During the 1982 preseason, Thomas was traded to the Denver Broncos for an initially undisclosed draft slot.[5]

Thomas has lived in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, since the 1970s. Partnering with former Steeler Larry Brown in the late 1980s, Thomas opened an Applebee's restaurant in the Monroeville area. In 2009, he opened a Southern restaurant known as Red, Hot & Blue in Homestead, Pennsylvania.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "J.T. Thomas NFL Football Statistics". Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  2. ^ "Pittsburgh Steelers Team Encyclopedia". Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  3. ^ Wexell, Jim (December 13, 2013). Tales From Behind The Steel Curtain: The Best Stories of the '79 Steelers. Skyhorse Publishing Company, Incorporated. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-61321-493-0. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  4. ^ "Top ten cornerback tandems". Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  5. ^ "Steelers trade J.T. Thomas". Gettysburg Times. August 19, 1982. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  6. ^ Lachimia, Jim (September 23, 2010). "J.T. Thomas". Pittsburgh Magazine. Retrieved April 26, 2015.

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