He may not have been the “first offensive lineman in NFL history” but Joe Thomas may have been the best of all time. After 11 seasons, Joe Thomas has hung his cleats and announced his retirement. From a first round pick in the 2007 NFL draft to what many experts are saying will be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee in the future, there was only one ”JT”.
Thomas was drafted third overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2007 NFL Draft after four years at the University of Wisconsin. He would find out he was picked by Cleveland through a cell phone call as he was fishing at Lake Michigan with his father, father-in-law and a close friend of his and fellow Wisconsin offensive lineman, Joe Panos.
Starting in 2007, he would start 167 consecutive games and make history in 2017 by becoming the first NFL player to eclipse 10,000 consecutive snaps. He would continue this mark until October 22nd, when attempting to block Tennessee Titans linebacker, Brian Orakpo, he would tear his tricep in his left arm, ending his streak at 10,363 snaps.
In the time he played, Thomas had many accomplishments. Among them was making the Pro Bowl 10 times in his NFL career, with his 2013 campaign earning him an honor that was shared only by Jim Brown; being the only Browns players to make it to seven Pro Bowls in his first seven seasons. He would also be a seven time first team All-Pro player and a two time second team All-Pro. He’s also earned himself a spot as one of Cleveland’s all-time greats and eventually a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Shortly after his retirement, the Browns announced that Thomas’ iconic number 73 would be retired and he’d be inducted into their ring of honor.