There was little doubt he’d be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but that expectation has been made official as Cleveland Browns legend, former left tackle Joe Thomas, was announced as a 2023 inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This year is Thomas’ first year of eligibility, now five years removed from his football retirement. He was named as a finalist for the HOF’s Class of 2023 in January, the last step before the inductees were announced during NFL Honors in Phoenix, Arizona.
Of the 11 years Thomas spent in the league, all were with Cleveland as the Browns selected him with the third overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
Thomas became a standout player in the NFL and was selected to 10 consecutive Pro Bowls, earning six first-team All-Pro honors. He boasted a streak of 10,363 consecutive snaps and quickly became a fan favorite as a consistently impressive player on a roster that wasn’t always impressive.
In order to have been selected as an inductee, Thomas needed at least 80% of the vote from a committee of 49 individuals. That felt sure to happen, and it did.
Last year, Thomas earned the honors of being inducted into the Browns Legends program, an exclusive group reserved for players who left undeniable impacts on the franchise. While that was an honor Thomas was proud to have earned, joining the exclusive group of Gold Jackets was something he’s had his eye on his whole career.
"[In 2007] I said that I would like to become the starter and make the Pro Bowl and then make the Hall of Fame. I didn't really think anything of it, but it kind of was a little bit of a newsworthy item for this rookie to say that he wanted to go into the Hall of Fame," Thomas said back in September. "Those are some pretty lofty goals for a guy that has never played a game in the NFL to say that he wanted to be in the Hall of Fame. That is where my mindset was. That is what I wanted to do in my career.”
Thirteen years, a remarkable football career and a venture in broadcasting later—Joe Thomas reached his “lofty goals” and will officially be in the Hall of Fame.
Jimmy and Dee Haslam released this statement after Thomas was selected:
We are so proud Joe Thomas will be recognized, appropriately, as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Joe epitomized the standard of excellence in everything he did for the Cleveland Browns organization and for our community. He was the essence of all you want in a player, as a teammate and representing the Browns organization. His extraordinary accomplishments and endurance playing 10-plus years without missing a single snap is unparalleled. How he went about his work each day was equally inspiring, the model of consistency, resiliency and class. Beyond being one of the best in NFL history, he was just as exceptional off the field. Joe and his wife, Annie have made an impact on so many people in Cleveland and have done so in a humble, unassuming way. He is just a tremendous human being. We are so happy that Joe will take his rightful place among our game’s greatest in Canton.
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