The fears that were born in us on October 22, 2017, were realized today when Browns left tackle, Joe Thomas, announced his retirement. We felt discomfort when we watched the Browns great grab his upper left arm and leave the field in that Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans. Today…that discomfort turned into a mixture of reflective melancholy, sadness and celebration. The great Joe Thomas will never play another snap. It marks the end of a Hall-of-Fame career that epitomized what being a Cleveland Brown is supposed to be all about.

Coming off a 4-12 season in 2006, the Browns selected Joe Thomas out of Wisconsin with the third overall selection in April of 2007. Thomas was famously not present for the draft. He was fishing. It was a preview of things to come. Joe Thomas didn’t seek the spotlight; he came to Cleveland to work. That’s who we are and that’s who Joe is. By the way, Joe was selected after JaMarcus Russell and Calvin Johnson and ahead of Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis and Darrelle Revis. It was an outstanding draft class.

Scout.com nailed its scouting report:

 

 

Thomas was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons. He also won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award three times, but the number we’ll all remember him for is his 10,363 consecutive snaps played. There is little doubt that he should be a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee. The question is whether he’s the best who ever played the position? Now that Joe has retired let the comparisons and debates begin. Whether you think he is better than Anthony Munoz and others or not, we can all agree that he is easily worthy of being placed in the discussion.

Joe Thomas played on Browns teams with a combined record of 48 – 128. He enjoyed one winning season. In 2007, the Browns went 10 – 6 and narrowly missed the playoffs. God bless Joe Thomas for all the losing that he put up with. This man was the best in the league and he suffered through so many miserable seasons and he did it with class and grace. That doesn’t even account for the cornucopia of regimes, quarterbacks and coaches. Let’s be realistic, 10 of his 11 seasons were akin to finding a Bentley parked at a buy-here, pay-here lot.

The great Joe Thomas endured, performed, achieved, won our hearts and has now exited into Browns lore as an all-time great. His name will forever be synonymous with the Cleveland Browns. Thanks for the memories Joe. You played the game the way it’s supposed to be played and we are grateful. Best of luck in all your future ventures. We’ll miss you, but you’ll always be a Brown to us.

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