Thank You Joe Thomas

April 2007. A young boy sits in his living room on the edge of his couch cushion in anticipation, waiting for Roger Goodell to announce who the Browns drafted third overall. The boy is a Notre Dame fan, and praying Cleveland chooses the hometown kid Brady Quinn to be their quarterback of the future. The bell rings, the room falls silent…

The boy was crushed. “A left tackle?? What the fuck?? HOW COULD THEY NOT PICK BRADY??” Little did he know, that would be the worst Browns take the boy would ever have.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, that boy was me. I remember so vividly watching this draft wondering how the Browns could take this big lineman from Wisconsin over my golden boy golden domer with perfect hair. But to their credit, it’s the most right this organization has been this millennium. We didn’t deserve someone like Joe, we still don’t.

He was the consummate professional. He played every game to the best of his ability, and regularly dominated any edge rusher that dared to face him 1 on 1. Here are some of the things Joe accomplished in his time in Cleveland:

  • 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting behind Adrian Peterson
  • 10 Pro Bowl appearances in 11 seasons
  • 1 of 15 players to make a Pro Bowl in each of his first six seasons
  • The second Brown other than Jim Brown to make the Pro Bowl in their first 7 seasons
  • Consistently voted a top 25 NFL player by other players in the league despite the Browns’ incompetence
  • Played 10,363 consecutive snaps, the only player to do so in the history of the league

But while his accomplishments and accolades on the field are incredible, what was more important to we in the Dawg Pound was how he was off the field. By all accounts Joe was a great teammate, and even better person. In an era defined by super teams and leaving to win rings, Joe stayed in Cleveland despite the black hole of talent and coaching in which he constantly had to combat. He believed in Cleveland even though this organization never gave him a reason to.

Joe Thomas will go into the Hall of Fame with a lower winning percentage than any Hall of Famer before him (48-128, 37.5%). He will also have blocked for the most quarterbacks of any Hall of Fame lineman (21). But it brings a smile to my face to know that when I take my kid to the Hall of Fame someday and we look at Joe’s bust, I’ll be able to teach them a lesson that as long as you’re doing what you love and doing it right, that brilliance will always outshine the failures.

A lot of people have been joking that the expectation in Cleveland is so low, that a QB that wins 5 games in a season will get a statue outside First Energy. But if any man is to to be idolized and immortalized as a representation of this organization, it’s Joe Thomas.

So here’s to you Joe. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being the one guy we could always count on, and proving that boy from ten years ago wrong.

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Watching Joe Thomas’ First Experience as a Browns Fan was more Heartbreaking than the Game Itself

 

Poor, poor Joe. Having to go through a Browns game as a spectator on Sundays is a fate I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. The day usually starts with a glimmer of hope, which slips in to an aura of doubt, and by halftime is typically full blown depression followed by reading six different mock draft articles.

But the Browns were particularly brutal to Joe this week, by going into halftime with a lead. To a novice Browns fan, a halftime lead usually results in an internal debate where the Browns fan convinces themselves that if the second half is played EXACTLY like the first half, then maybe, just maybe, the Browns can pull this out. This was where Joe Thomas found himself yesterday.

But to the jaded masses of us who spend Sunday wallowing in a haze of self-pity, we all knew what was coming. The Browns scored a whopping 3 points in the second half while giving up 21, resulting in yet another double digit loss. Another game of no halftime adjustments, nor designing quick plays to get the ball out of Kizer’s hands. I hate to be the one to have to tell you this Joe (even though the odds of you reading this are incalculably farfetched) but expect more of the same.

This year is pretty much devoid of all hope, other than the possibility of another #1 overall pick. You hate to have to see Joe go through this season like the rest of us, but hope that maybe he’ll find a new source of empathy to those who willingly choose to watch this team play. So, I’d like to address Joe’s tweets in the hopes that he’ll learn the error in his misguided hope and join the rest of us in the sewers of Browns Twitter.

1.) No matter how good of a stop the defense has, the offense will reset any momentum to the natural Browns equilibrium.

2.)  While I value the sentiment, teams probably run out of TD celebration ideas when they reach the endzone for the fourth or fifth time against this defense, so can’t really blame them for that.

3.) Yes Joe, we ALWAYS need a turnover. They’re the Cleveland Browns.

And finally, this one:

No they’re not Joe, and they won’t be for the rest of this year.

If I Could Get Surgery that Ended my Season with the Browns, I Would.

Joe Thomas successfully underwent season ending surgery yesterday after tearing his triceps in Sunday’s game against the Titans. After 11 years and 10,363 consecutive snaps played, the only pick the Browns have ever gotten right will sit his first game this Sunday in London against the Vikings.

It’ll be weird seeing the Browns line up on the field Sunday without number 73 holding down the offensive line, but I, for one, couldn’t be happier for Joe. Sure, he’s had an unparalleled level of success during his tenure in Cleveland, but being the best player on the Browns is like being the best cashier at Sears. The work is worthwhile and you’re customer service is unmatched, but your organization has no plan for the future and just hired another young assistant manager, the 16th since you’ve been there.

No football player should have to endure what Joe has gone through. Since being drafted by the Browns in 2007, the Browns are a mere 48-119, a winning percentage of 24.3%. Joe was even quoted this year saying that he’s blocked for QB’s that he hadn’t yet met before they broke the huddle. That level of mediocrity is a cruel, Hell-like punishment for a player who by all accounts is just an all around great guy.

Prison guards in Guantanamo wouldn’t even offer their inmates a punishment similar to what Joe has gone through, so I thought I’d compile a quick list of things I’d rather do 10,363 times than play 10,363 consecutive snaps for the Cleveland Browns:

  • Rent 10,363 cars from Avis
  • Lay 10,363 eggs like a bird
  • Somersault 10,363 times through a rose garden
  • Wait 10,363 minutes for my soup to cool
  • Stub my toe $10,363 times against a metal bed frame
  • Accidentally push a pull door 10,363 times
  • Seal 10,363 envelopes with my tongue
  • Have to blow on a Nintendo 64 cartridge to get it to work 10,363 times
  • Eat 10,363 marshmallows, marshmallows are trash
  • Sit through 10,363 operas based off of “To Kill A Mocking Bird”
  • Scramble 10,363 eggs without burning a single one
  • Hear a flight attendant explain the Spirit Airlines Rewards Program 10,363 times
  • Listen to someone tell me I can’t get tickets to Hamilton 10,363 times

All of this being said, I truly feel for Joe. He’s stuck out his time in Cleveland in an era where players want nothing more than max contracts and championships. He’s better than this football team deserves, and hope he recovers as quickly as possible. Then, for his sake, he may want to ask for a trade…just a thought Joe.