CANTON, Ohio — The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced that Browns legend Joe Thomas was named a finalist for the Class of 2023 on Wednesday night.
Thomas is a first ballot finalist, an accolade not many can say.
"You just kind of well up with excitement when you get to hear your name as one of the finalists and you get an opportunity to kind of stroll down memory lane and just think about all the people that helped get you here and all the great teammates that you had a chance to play with that were such a big part of being able to get yourself as one of the Hall of Fame finalists," Thomas during an interview following the announcement on the NFL Network.
Going into his career, Thomas put high expectations on himself as a player, all the way back during rookie camp. From there, he set his goal of wanting to be Pro Bowler and a Hall of Famer.
"I'd love to win a Super Bowl. I'd love to make the playoffs every season, blah, blah, blah. But personally, individually, those are my goals and those are the steps," Thomas said. "For me, I always kind of expected perfection outta myself. And I knew that if I had an opportunity, God willing to play long enough, I was going to try to make the Pro Bowl every single season and I knew if I could continue to maintain a level of excellence and continue to push myself for perfection, that I wanted to be a Hall of Famer. And so it kind of is a little bit surreal now thinking that we're very close to the opportunity to be voted in on something that I said I wanted to do more than 15 years ago.”
Thomas played 167 games in his career and had 10 fumble recoveries during his time as a Cleveland Brown. In September, he was inducted into the Browns Legends program.
In order to receive the Gold Jacket, all nominees must have at least an 80% approval rate from the Hall of Fame Committee, according to the PFHOF's website.
No set number of inductees is required, but between four to eight new members are added each year.
Other finalists on the ballot include:
- Jared Allen
- Willie Anderson
- Ronde Barber
- Dwight Freeny
- Devin Hester
- Torry Holt
- Andre Johnson
- Albert Lewis
- Darrelle Revis
- Zach Thomas
- DeMarcus Ware
- Reggie Wayne
- Patrick Willis
- Darren Woodson
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