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Joe Thomas: Eligible And Guaranteed For The Hall Of Fame

Joe Thomas is now eligible for the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. The former Brown had an illustrious career and should be a lock for the first-ballot.

Ever since the Cleveland Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, the organization has been through decades of numerous losing seasons, incompetent management, substandard coaching, poor draft picks, and free agent signings that have all accumulated to the on-field performance. In light of the disastrous decades of football in Cleveland, one man above the rest has been the beacon of hope that will soon find his way to the immortals in Canton, Ohio, Left Tackle Joe Thomas.

Browns draft Wisconsin Badger, Joe Thomas

After finishing the 2006 season with a 4-12 overall record and dead last in the AFC North division, it was time for the Browns’ to address their need for a competent performer in the trenches on the offensive line. With the third overall pick in the 2007 draft, the Browns’ decision to draft the former Badger, Joe Thomas, was among the best they have made since their return to the league. 

Thomas played four years at Wisconsin, making 37 starts at left tackle in some of the most productive offensive seasons in school history. He won the Outland Trophy, presented to the nation’s top lineman, in 2006 and was an Associated Press All-American. Another thing to note is that he also continued his strong performance in the classroom, receiving Academic All-Big Ten honors twice. After being drafted by the Browns, Thomas signed a six-year contract for 43 million dollars and saw the field immediately. 

Joe Thomas’s career with the Browns

In his rookie season with the Browns, Thomas played all 16 games and only gave up one sack contributing to Cleveland’s ranking tied for third in the fewest sacks allowed (19) in the NFL in 2007. He finished second for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award behind Adrian Peterson. He was invited to his first Pro Bowl as one of only four rookies to be asked. In 2007, the Browns missed the playoffs after finishing the season with a 10-6 record. It was the only winning season that Joe Thomas was a part of. 

Over the next three seasons as a member of the Cleveland Browns, Thomas continued to play at a high level and was invited to three more Pro Bowls. Although the team’s performance was subpar through the years, he was selected as First Team All-Pro honor in 2009 and 2010. Before the beginning of the 2011 season, Thomas and the Browns agreed to a record-setting seven-year, $84 million extension with $44 million guaranteed. 

In the 2011 season, he was invited to his fifth straight Pro Bowl and selected to First Team All-Pro for the third consecutive time. Thomas and the Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown are the only Browns players to be selected to the Pro Bowl for the first five seasons of their careers. Over the next five years of Joe Thomas’s career, he would continue to be the shining light in Cleveland as he earned five more Pro Bowls appearances and three more First Team All-Pro honor selections. 

Having been in the league for ten seasons, Joe Thomas never missed a snap or a game on the gridiron as a Cleveland Brown. In the 2017 season, he would become the first NFL player in league history to have played 10,000 consecutive snaps since being drafted. Later in the season, his ‘iron man’ consecutive snap streak ended at 10,363 when he suffered a torn triceps injury in a regular season game against the Tennessee Titans, which ended his season.

In March 2018, Joe Thomas announced his retirement from the NFL. He never got a chance to play in the playoffs. In the 2018 season, Thomas was inducted into the Browns’ Ring of Honor, with his 10,363 snaps played displayed in FirstEnergy Stadium. 

Hall of Fame in the future for Joe Thomas?

Having retired from the league in 2018, Thomas is now eligible for the first time to join the immortals in the Hall of Fame in Canton as part of the 2023 class. 17 Browns have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame like Jim Brown, Paul Brown, Otto Graham, Paul Warfield, and Ozzie Newsome, the most recent Brown to be among the greats. Joe Thomas will change that when he is inducted. 

It is without a doubt that Thomas should be a lock to be selected as a first-ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame. He boasts one of the most impressive resumes for an offensive lineman in NFL history. Throughout his 11 seasons with the Browns, Thomas was named to ten consecutive Pro Bowls (2007-2016) and earned six first-team All-Pros and two second-team All-Pros.

It is expected that he should be enshrined into Canton next season, but you never know. Joe Thomas and the Pro Football Hall of Fame will go together whenever possible. 

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