The greatest Cleveland Browns player to ever wear No. 73!
The Countdown to the 2020 NFL season is upon us. With 73 days remaining until the Browns season opener, we continue the countdown by celebrating the best Cleveland Browns player to ever wear No. 73: Joe Thomas.
There is no question who the greatest player ever to wear the No. 73 for the Cleveland Browns is. The answer is simple, it’s Joe Thomas. Thomas is one of the greatest Browns of all time regardless of jersey number or position. That says something
Even with their lack of success since the turn of the century, the Browns are still easily one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. If you were to erect a Mount Rushmore of Browns legends, you would be hard pressed to leave Thomas off that monument. His level of excellence, his attitude, and his loyalty mean that much to the Browns franchise and the city of Cleveland.
Normally an article like this would start with when a player was drafted, what round, was the player heralded or not, stuff like that. In Thomas’ case, it is more important to talk about where he was when he was drafted. The NFL draft, like it is to this day, is an event. It is a moment, especially for those drafted in the first round, to get the praise and adulation for earning a seat at this elite table for all of the hard work put in to get to this moment. Thomas did not have time for that.
Knowing he was going to be a top-five draft pick, instead of sitting in the green room at Radio City Music Hall, he chose to be on a boat fishing with family and friends out on Lake Michigan. When the Browns called his name with the third overall pick, Thomas received a call on his cell phone. After a brief moment of celebration with his family, it was right back to slaying Yellow Perch and Walleye.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
This is the point in the article where we would write about a player’s accolades and accomplishments. When it comes to Thomas it would be difficult to nearly impossible to name every award or honor bestowed on the 11-year NFL veteran. For time purposes, here are the CliffsNotes: Outland Trophy winner his senior year in college, named to the PFWA’s All Rookie Team, 10 straight Pro Bowl appearances, six first-team All-Pro nominations, two second-team All-Pro nominations, the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2010’s, and an NFL record 10,363 consecutive snaps played.
Now that we have that out of the way, let us talk about the true measure of Thomas’ greatness; his heart. Thomas only played for one winning team during his NFL career and that happened his rookie year. Read those accolades again and consider all of those were accomplished on losing teams. Surely there were seasons Thomas went into the year optimistically, only to realize halfway through the campaign the team was going nowhere.
He never once mailed it in and always gave his all for his team and the city of Cleveland. Thomas’ strive for greatness was never diminished even in the face of hopelessness of the teams’ success. It is almost impossible to quantify how hard it is to get recognized for individual achievements in a never-ending losing environment. The level of greatness Thomas reached was simply undeniable.
Knowing the type of man Thomas is, he would trade all of those awards and accolades for the Browns and the city of Cleveland to reach the mountaintop. As great of a player as Thomas was, he may even be a better human being.
Since retiring following the 2017 season, Thomas has went on and applied his quest for greatness in other avenues. Whether it is on the NFL Network, his podcast with Andrew Hawkins, The ThomaHawk Show, or on The Titan Games, you will see Thomas giving it his all. Just as he did on the football field.
There is still one more thing that awaits Thomas in regard to his playing career, the Hall of Fame. Thomas is a shoe-in first ballot Hall of Famer. Consider this article a personal invitation to join this writer, along with thousands of other Browns fans, to meet in Canton to celebrate Thomas when they unveil his bust in 2023.
Not only is Joe Thomas the greatest number 73 in Browns franchise history, he is one of the greatest number 73’s in the history of professional football.
Honorable mention: Doug Dieken.