You can make the argument that no player in the NFL has been more consistent and reliable than Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas. Not only is he an All-Pro, the best player on the Browns and a nine-time Pro Bowler, but he hasn’t missed a single snap in his pro career – not one play in nine seasons.
He’s the definition of an NFL ironman, which is even more impressive because he plays for the ever-futile Browns. Thomas has seen dozens of quarterbacks come in and out of the starting lineup, protected all of their blind sides and done a terrific job doing so. All of this with experiencing just one winning season in his career – his 2007 rookie year.
Despite his desire for a playoff appearance, which he’s never had, Thomas doesn’t want to play anywhere else. His name has been floated in trade rumors, but Thomas has made it clear he wants to stay in Cleveland and win there. So much so that winning a Super Bowl with another team wouldn’t be satisfying.
“It's a blue-collar city, and for a blue-collar guy like myself, it's easy to fall in love with the people and kind of the chip on the shoulder that a lot of people have because they feel like they've been slighted for so long,” Thomas said in an interview with ESPN. “It's so important for me to be here for the turnaround. I don't want to just get a Super Bowl ring [by] being traded to a dream team. It would feel unsatisfying. Unfulfilling.”
Thomas has never been to the playoffs, and that won’t change this season. The winless Browns have already been eliminated from contention, and, at age 32, he can’t count on reaching the postseason any time soon in Cleveland.
The Browns don’t have a quarterback, the defense lacks playmakers, and they’re squarely in the middle of a rebuilding process. Thomas wants to help turn them into contenders, though, much like the way the Cubs have become relevant again in Chicago after years of losing.
“I'm a Clevelander,” he said. “I've spent the majority of my adult life here. Every day when I come to work, it's 'Let's turn this team into a consistent winner.' Because it would be such a special story. It would be like when the Cubs won the World Series. Everybody in the country has probably been cheering for them for so long because they've been suffering for so long. And you want to cheer for teams like the Browns.”