Former Wisconsin Badgers star and Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas was inducted into the Hall of Fame Saturday, wrapping up an extremely successful career with a gold jacket around his shoulders.
Thomas’s induction went in a special direction, as his family was able to serve as the presenter, prior to him taking the stage.
Thomas, one of five players in NFL history to make 10 Pro Bowls consecutively to begin their career, pointed out how much he prided himself on consistency and availability, as he still holds the streak of 10,363 snaps in a row, the longest in NFL history.
“Now, that number 10,363 is special to me—and not just because it’s an NFL record, because it shows that I was there for my brothers 10,363 times in a row,” he said. “They could count on me. Loyalty, consistency, doing something bigger than yourself, showing up for someone else.”
Thomas thanked the most important people in his life, starting with his parents, Eric and Sally, in an emotional speech.
“Dad, I watched you go to work every day, no matter what,” Thomas said. “Once when I was knee high to a grasshopper, I remember you strapping cross country skis to your feet to get to work in a snowstorm.
“I didn’t then know the quote, ‘availability is the most important ability, but I learned those values from you buddy! And I took that lesson with me every time I stepped onto the football field. Thank you for your love, and for the example you set for me.”
Thomas said his mom’s goal was to always strive for perfection, chiding on a C in 7th-grade algebra in a joking moment.
“Growing up I had to do my homework and chores before I could go outside and play,” he said. “You grounded me when I got a C in seventh-grade algebra (it was actually a C+!). I didn’t like it then, but I’m grateful now.”
On his wife, Thomas gave a touching message, sharing his appreciation for her support throughout his career.
“Annie, you’ve always been my rock,” Thomas said to his wife. “You lived through the injuries, the losses, the new coaches... You were the soulmate I always needed.”
Thomas didn’t leave out his children, Logan(10), Camryn(8), Jack(7), and Reese(4), who presented him to begin the ceremony.
“You guys were such a blessing to me during my career,” Thomas said to his children. “You gave me the joy, the happiness, and the purpose to carry on when I didn’t think it was possible. You guys continue to give me purpose every single day of my life. Thank you.”
Through his 11-year career, Thomas held an impressive resume, earning 10 Pro Bowls, six first-team All-Pro selections, and two second-team All-Pros, all with the Cleveland Browns, epitomizing the definition of loyalty through an incredibly successful career.
Congrats on the Hall of Fame Joe!