If Joe Thomas never plays another snap in the NFL, he is already a Hall-of-Fame worthy player. The last Cleveland Brown enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton was Gene Hickerson in 2007, but Hickerson played his last season in 1973. Joe DeLamielleure was enshrined in 2003, but finished his playing days in the mid-eighties
Jamal Lewis will be the first player in the Hall-of-Fame to have played for the ‘new’ Browns, but he will go into the hall as a Baltimore Raven, which he should.
Thomas will be the first Brown drafted after the team returned to the league in 1999 to be enshrined.
And he could get there without ever having played in a playoff game.
I’ve had discussions with several friends about wasting the career of a HOF left tackle. Left tackle is one of the three positions (quarterback and cornerback being the other two) that is supposed to be the cornerstone of a successful franchise. It’s a money position. Joe Thomas has manned it at the highest level since stepping onto the grass in Berea for the first time as a rookie, but the Browns haven’t been able to capitalize on having that important piece in place.
The only season in which the Browns have finished with more wins than losses in Thomas’ career came his rookie season. The Browns finished 10-6 but missed the playoffs. After that season, Thomas must have thought great things were ahead in his NFL career. His team would not win more than five games until winning seven this past season.
It is difficult to truly feel sorry for a man who has made over $88 million dollars since being drafted, but if it is possible to do so, Thomas is that player. Joe is not just an outstanding left tackle, but one of the nicest guys you would want to meet.
So it feels rotten to think that a guy as talented as Thomas might never get a chance to play in the most meaningful games of the NFL season. He is under contract until 2018. He will turn 34 during that season. If the Browns don’t manage to turn things around and make the playoffs, would Thomas go somewhere else for the chance to play in the post-season? Would he at 34 have enough left in the tank to contribute at a high level?
The answers to those question will come in time, but for now let’s have a little fun with the numbers of Joe Thomas’ career-
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The Fast Lane
8- Pro-Bowl selections, third in Browns history Jim Brown (9) and Lou Groza (9)
128- Consecutive games started out of 128 possible games
5- First-team AP All-Pro selections
2- Second-team AP All-Pro selections
44- Games the Browns have won in Joe Thomas’ career
84- Games the Browns have lost in Joe Thomas’ career
Zero- Number of times the Browns have won the first game of the season in Thomas’ career
2- Number of Browns owners since Thomas was drafted
5- Number of General Managers and the number of different Head Coaches in Thomas’ Browns career
6- Number of different Offensive Coordinators
14- Quarterbacks that have started games during Thomas’ career in Cleveland (Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Bruce Gradkowski, Ken Dorsey, Jake Delhomme, Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, Brandon Weeden, Thaddeus Lewis, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Connor Shaw)
3- 1,000 yard rushers blocked for (Jamal Lewis ’07, ’08 and Peyton Hillis ’10)