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Joe Thomas’ Journey to the Hall of Fame


The Hall of Fame Class of 2023 was introduced on the night of February 9th at he NFL Honors. The class included Ronde Barber, Darrell Revis, Zach Thomas, DeMarcus Ware, Don Coryell, Chuck Howley, Joe Klecko, Ken Riley, and Joe Thomas. With Thomas being part of the 2023 class, while also being a first ballot Hall of Famer, he becomes the 18th member from the Cleveland Browns to enter the Hall of Fame. Here is his journey:

Early Life:

Joe Thomas was born on December 4th, 1984 in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Thomas attended Brookfield Central High School, where he played some different roles on the football team. He played right tackle, defensive tackle, fullback, placekicker, and even did some punting duties for the team. Thomas was listed as a top-20 offensive tackle in the country, along with many other accomplishments. Some of them include, PrepStar All-American, second-team, and All-America offensive guard. He was also selected as a member of Detroit Free Press All-Midwest team, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first-team all-state defensive lineman, and second-team all-state offensive guard as a junior.

As a senior he had 85 tackles, and 12 sacks, and was listed as the third-best prospect in the state of Wisconsin. Thomas was regarded as a 4-star recruit, and signed to play at the University of Wisconsin.

College Career:

Thomas’ first season as a Badger gave him some time as a blocking tight end, but soon moved to left tackle where he started all 12 games his sophomore season. His junior year, he started in all 13 games, and was named a first-team All-American. Thomas was the cornerstone of an offensive line that helped Brian Calhoun rush for 1,500 yards. In the Orange Bowl against Auburn, Thomas tore his ACL.

After the injury, Thomas decided to stay for his senior year at the University of Wisconsin. Once again, Thomas started all 13 games for the Badgers and helped P.J. Hill Jr. reach 1,500 yards on the ground. Thomas won the Outland Trophy, which is given to the best interior lineman in the country. Thanks to Thomas’ performance the Badgers got invited back to the Orange Bowl. They faced off against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Wisconsin won the game 17-14.

NFL Career:

Joe Thomas was drafted third overall to the Cleveland Browns, where he started his iron man streak. Thomas played 10,363 consecutive snaps, which is the longest streak ever of any player since it started being tracked in 1999. In his first season, Thomas won offensive rookie of the month in November, and was selected to the Pro Bowl, which was the first of 10 in his career. Thomas placed second in rookie of the year voting, only behind Adrian Peterson.

In 2011, Thomas was selected to his fifth straight Pro Bowl, and became the second offensive lineman in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl in his first five seasons. In 2014, Thomas became the only offensive lineman to be selected to the Pro Bowl in his first eight seasons. Thomas was able to add to his accomplishments by winning Pro Football Focus’s Bruce Matthews Award for the best offensive lineman in the league. During the Browns 1-15 season, Thomas was still the consistent cornerstone he has been and got selected to his 10th straight Pro Bowl.

On September 17, 2017, Thomas played his 10,000 consecutive snap, the first player in NFL history to reach that milestone. On his 10,363 connective snap, the streak came to end after tearing his tricep playing against the Tennessee Titans. This ended the streak and ended his 2017 season. After the season, Thomas was thinking about retirement. He made it official on March 14, 2018 that he was indeed retiring from the game of football.

Current Situation:

Thomas is enjoying retirement and is an analyst for NFL Network, mostly showing up on Thursday Night Football games.


Joe Thomas is already among the legends of Cleveland greats, such as Jim Brown, Otto Graham. Bernie Kosar, and Ozzie Newsome, just to name a few. Thomas was the definition of consistency at a position where consistency is hard to come by. He was the one cornerstone that Browns’ fans, coaches, and players alike could all count on. Thomas set the standard, and has paved the way for other Cleveland offensive lineman to make their own legacy.


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