Joe Thomas, the legend that is (or definitely should be) in the eyes of us Cleveland Browns fans, ended his 2017 season early after sustaining a tear to one of his triceps. This also ended the phenomenal record of 10,363 consecutive snaps for the Browns.
He was drafted third overall in the 2007 draft, just behind Jamarcus Russell and Calvin Johnson and has outlasted them both as well as most of the others from that draft class.
There’s no question about it, he’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer and will be regarded by NFL and Browns fans-alike in the same way as other Cleveland Browns legends such as Jim Brown, Paul Brown and Bernie Kosar — I wouldn’t even be at all surprised if they retire his number as a way of thanking him for all his hard work and ability he’s given to the franchise through such difficult times. It can’t have been easy to stay at the very pinnacle of the game at his position for so long on such teams as he’s had to play on.
He was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his ten full seasons of playing for the Browns and has played for no-one else in his professional career even though there were trade rumours at the end of the 2016 NFL season where it was suggested they’d be shipping him off to Denver in return for a draft pick (a 2nd rounder I believe was the talk at the time).
During all the talk that it was time for the Browns to let him go and get himself the Super Bowl ring he deserved to put the cherry on top of the cake of his career, he stated that he wanted to stay in Cleveland. This is just one more reason that the people of Cleveland and us further afield fans respect the guy so much.
So What Now?
At the time of writing this, Joe Thomas has stated that he wants to have time to think about his next step with regards to his career. He’s recently signed a new contract that would take him through the 2018 season and make him the highest paid offensive lineman in the league, but let’s be honest, he’s never been on shoddy money anyway so I doubt it’s the $13.5 million he’s due to make in 2018 that would make him come back for one more go if he’s had enough — his previous 7-year contract has made him around $80 million, according to Spotrac.
Personally, I doubt very much that we’ll see him playing again because, like I say, he doesn’t need the money and he’s been nothing but a legend already for the franchise he’s spent his entire professional career at. The guy has nothing left to prove as he’s consistently been the best, or one of the best, offensive linemen in the game and that has been proven by the Pro Bowl votes he’s received in each of his first 10 seasons in the league.
Other than him not having anything left to prove on the field being an indicator, his media presence has increased quite a bit in recent times as he looks like he’s forging out a career in that respect and moving on to the next phase of his life.
Even before his injury, Joe Thomas had been sampling the media spotlight with “The Joe Thomas Hour – The Best Two Minutes of Your Life”, which can be found on YouTube. In it, he goes around the team facility interviewing people with some daft questions whilst wearing a daft hat.
Then there was the image of Joe sitting on the sideline at a game with a caption under it that looked like it was suggesting he was the first offensive lineman in history. It’s obvious that the ticker at the bottom of the screen was obscuring the second line, but Joe Thomas didn’t miss a trick with it and jumped straight on it in a fun way.
One of the ways he used it to further his media career was with his podcast which he called “First Podcast in NFL History” which has recently been followed by another podcast he’s involved with along with former Cleveland Browns teammate, Andrew Hawkins. This podcast is called “The ThomaHawk Show”. His Twitter activity and presence has also been increased recently as we’re all supposed to have a great social media presence if we’re going to succeed online (yuck).
It would be a shame if he does retire as he’s a great player and a good guy that I imagine is great for the locker room and the young guys coming in. Maybe, if he does retire, the franchise will look to bring him in in some kind of coaching role but I can’t see it as it’s probably too early for him and he’s more interested in the media side of things as he does have a fun, outgoing personality that will do well.
The good thing for the team going forward is the fact that he’s said he’ll let them know before the free agency and draft period of the off-season arrive so the team can make the necessary moves if he isn’t coming back. So, not long to wait for his decision.