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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Former Badger Joe Thomas retired from the NFL yesterday.

Former Badger Joe Thomas retired from the NFL yesterday.

Former Badger Joe Thomas retires from NFL

It appeared to be like any other game on the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line. Former Wisconsin lineman Joe Thomas was positioned as Cleveland’s blindside protector as he had been for 11 seasons. But, on Oct. 22, 2017, midway through the third quarter of Cleveland’s game against the Tennessee Titans, something happened while Thomas was blocking Brian Orakpo on a Duke Johnson run. Thomas went to the ground and started writhing in pain, grabbing his left arm. It turned out, revealed on the following Monday morning, that he had torn his left triceps, causing him to have surgery and ending his 11th season on a sour note.

Injuries are a part of football. But up to that point, Joe Thomas had never missed an NFL snap; to be precise he had played 10,363 consecutive snaps. The ironman of football had played through three MCL sprains, two high ankle sprains and an LCL tear.

Wednesday morning, Thomas announced his retirement from the NFL, thus ending his historic 11-season career, which included 10 straight Pro Bowls, seven First-team All Pro’s and two Second-team All Pro’s.

Thomas’s announcement came as a surprise to many at the Wisconsin pro day, especially his former teammate and the current Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard.

“Physically I thought he could still play a year or two — very few guys get to choose when they want to leave that league,” Leonhard said. “I kind of always commend guys when they do and it’s not up to anyone else but you. So if he’s comfortable walking away now that’s awesome.”

Thomas and Leonhard played two seasons together at the University of Wisconsin before Leonhard graduated and left to the NFL. They would spend eight seasons playing against each other before Leonhard joined the Browns for the 2014 season.

“It was fun for me to have been around him for three years. He has a great personality, loves the game, loves his teammates and is just a straightforward type of guy,” Leonhard said. “It was a pleasure to be around him.”

Thomas’s accomplishments and accolades stand behind only one left tackle, Anthony Munoz, who was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection and a nine-time First-team All-Pro .

“Talent-wise, he is the best to ever play at that position,” Leonhard said. “At least he’s in the conversation and that is good enough. And it’s unbelievable for me just to be saying that, it’s so special."

“I commend him for being a part of the offensive line and being a face of a franchise for a long time. I don’t know if it’s unprecedented but it’s pretty close.”

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