In Cleveland, Ohio a player like Joe Thomas will be more than just a Pro Football Hall-of-Famer. He will be a legend whether or not he ever gets to play in a playoff game.
Thomas has of course started every game in his NFL career (128) and never missed as much as an offensive snap in those games (7,917).
Thomas walked off the field on Monday after having his knee rolled over by rookie behemoth Danny Shelton. Thomas screamed in pain as the play happened, and had everyone around the practice facility concerned.
On Tuesday, Thomas sat out of practice but did not favor his leg or limp in any way. In fact, coach Pettine said Thomas was scheduled for the day off anyway. They have not determined yet if Thomas will play in the preseason game on Thursday.
The concern that went through camp when the injury occurred was not lost on Joe.
“When you got 700 pounds falling on your leg, you’re pretty concerned, said Thomas. “Once I got up I knew it wasn’t too bad. It’s more or less a bump and a bruise that is typical of every training camp. So a couple days off and should be back and ready to go.”
“Just about every year you get rolled up, but it’s not always that the media and the fans are at practice where they can diagnose everything. A lot of times stuff like that will happen in the game, you’ll come to the sideline and say ‘hey it feels ok’ and the trainer is like ‘alright well if you can play the rest of the game great and then we’ll look at it after the game’.”
Thomas also said that he’d been hurt enough to know when he’s really hurt and when he’s ok. The question is, when has Thomas ever been really hurt? The answer stunned the gathered throng of reporters.
“I’ve had three MCL tears in my career so, I know the severity of what it feels like and how it happens.”
Joe Thomas revealed on Tuesday that he’s played through three MCL tears in his Browns career. Plus two high ankle sprains.
Makes that streak look a little more impressive, no?
When asked how he played through MCL tears, Thomas was quite blunt.
“You just suck it up. You’re a lineman.”
“The great part about being a lineman is you need to be quick and fast, but you don’t need to be that quick and fast so if you lose a little bit because you’re hurt it doesn’t hurt you that bad, you can make it up with technique. The great part about the MCL is it heals itself, you don’t need surgery unless it’s really bad.”
He’s the clincher from Thomas, “For the most part you can kind of just tape it up and move on.”
Yep. Just tape up an MCL tear and get back out there. Amazing.
Did it ever occur to Joe to sit out one of these meaningless December games when the team had no shot at a playoff berth and he had an MCL tear?
“If I can go, I’m gonna go because I’ve never quit on anything in my life and certainly wouldn’t want to quit on my teammates unless I physically can’t. That’s just against my mindset and it’s never even really been a thought that’s gone through my head.”
That’s why he’s Joe Thomas, and that’s why he will be a Cleveland football legend.