Buzz: Marvel at Joe Thomas' streak
Which football position best exemplifies the sport itself?
A case could be made for middle linebacker. That’s the Dick Butkus position, the Mike Singletary position, the Ray Lewis position. It’s all physicality and intensity, the base elements of the game.
But I submit that the truest embodiment of what football really is goes to the offensive tackle position. More specifically, it belongs to Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who has played every single offensive down for the Browns since he joined the team in 2007 -- 6,054 snaps in a row.
We know this thanks to some good PR work by Browns communications coordinator Dan Murphy.
Joe Thomas will be appearing in his 100th career game on Sunday.He has played in all 6,054 offensive snaps since joining the @Browns in 2007— Dan Murphy (@DMurph_BrownsPR) September 24, 2013
Quick reminder about what Thomas does for a living: He collides with huge men. I don’t know how many of those 6,054 snaps involved Thomas hitting someone, but I reason more than 95 percent had contact.
Having covered a few football teams over the years, I also suspect that Thomas ranks among the smartest players on the Browns. Offensive linemen usually do. He probably understands the offense as well as the quarterback, or maybe better since we're talking about the Browns.
The job requirements include being one of the biggest and strongest guys on the team, but also being light enough on his feet to shuffle in front of defensive ends and linebackers that look like muscled-up basketball players and run 4.7 40-yard dashes.
He is equal parts ballerina, snow plow and honor student.
That’s a more complete representation of modern, sophisticated football than the shrieking banshee linebacker who, as my junior high coach liked to say, “is blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other.”
That’s the cerebral part of this, and it’s important, but today is more of a celebration of the physical. It’s ludicrous to think Thomas hasn’t been injured during any of those many snaps. I know that old football saying about the difference between being hurt and being injured, and I know there’s a lot of nonsense built into that. I’ve known offensive linemen to play on broken legs, OK? There’s a difference between “wide receiver injured” and “offensive lineman injured.”
These guys have a different standard, maybe the highest in sports. And Joe Thomas somehow raised it.
Now, let's hit the links:
• An Edmonton Eskimo reflects on the suicide of one-time teammate Paul Oliver.
• Mariano Rivera's jersey is the No. 1 seller post-All-Star break.
• Someone paid more than $2,000 for a game-used Syracuse helmet. No, it wasn't Jim Brown's helmet.
• Jack Nicklaus will drop the puck at the Blue Jackets' opener.
• Man accused of stalking pro golfer Morgan Pressel.
• The Bears once won a game on a free kick by Mac Percival.
• Could manager Joe Girardi be on his way out of the Bronx, too?
• Tate George testifies: I'm an honest person.
• Former Colts coach Jim Caldwell is keeping things simple as the Ravens' offensive coordinator.
• How longtime Syracuse aide Mike Hopkins wound up at USC.
• A documentary celebrates the life and times of George Plimpton.
• There'll be more than one race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 2014.
• These triplets love to run -- on the same team.