This Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Thomas will play the 100th game of his career. He has not missed a single one and in recent weeks, it has been easy to notice how much Thomas can be taken for granted. People forget how bad the left tackle position was before Thomas to town and how secure that spot has been since Thomas was drafted third overall in 2007.
This whole situation is somewhat fitting with the recent trade of Trent Richardson, which prompted to Mike Holmgren to spout off and look foolish as he said Richardson was the best offensive player on the Browns. One would have to think that had someone mentioned Thomas’s name, Holmgren would have had to correct himself on the point. Holmgren inherited Thomas when he came to Cleveland and never had to worry about that spot on the team. It was great when he came in and great when he left with a brinks truck full of money. For a 6’6″ 310lb man that would stand out in any situation, Thomas has managed to stay relatively anonymous.
The Browns are guaranteed at least one participant in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl every year as Thomas is a lock. Thomas is in the prime of his career and the hope is that the Browns will find the quarterback and offense to surround him to get him the team success he richly deserves. Between hard work, physical conditioning and a little luck, Thomas has never missed time due to injury. He has played through pain and found a way to make it work while playing at a high level.
Short of a catastrophic injury, the path Thomas is on will have him the last player ever to wear the number 73 on the Browns as well as making a trip down I-77 to Canton someday. Not only has he been a great player, but he has been a great citizen and representation of the Browns franchise and hopefully this team can do what Joe so desperately wants. He has made it clear he is not interested in the personal accolades, so he probably does not want any attention drawn to the fact he is playing his 100th game this Sunday. What he wants is a win for his team and a sense that they are headed in the right direction and one that can ultimately end up competing for the playoffs and a Lombardi trophy in the near future.
Hopefully, Browns fans do not make the mistake Holmgren did and inadvertently take Joe Thomas for granted. He is always amongst the best in the business and there is no reason he should ever play a game with another team for the extent of his career. His value both as a player and a person is incalculable to this team and if they can find success and ultimately win a Super Bowl, he will be a huge reason for it.