The Story Of How Future Hall-Of-Famer Joe Thomas Cost Me $100

joe thomas retires

by Tommy Gimler

One of the greatest offensive linemen the NFL has ever seen decided to call it quits Tuesday morning.

Ironically, Joe Thomas is walking away from the game during an offseason that saw the Cleveland Browns compile the most competitive team he ever would have blocked for at the professional level. Instead, the only offensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first ten seasons and the only player in NFL history to play more than 10,000 consecutive snaps has decided to call it a career.

Unlike the majority of Browns fans, I heard of Joe Thomas’s potential greatness while I was still living in Wisconsin in 2002. I was living in the Piccadilly Apartments with my good pal Ralph Jones. at a discounted rate because I was splitting my time between waiting tables and substitute teaching, and he came home one night after his high school football team battled the Brookfield Central Lancers and made the ludicrous claim that a player on Lancers was one day going to play in the NFL.

“You’re an idiot,” I said to him. “The dude is, what, 17 years old tops right now and he plays in Brookfield? No way.”

“I’m telling you,” he retorted. “He plays both sides of the ball and even kicks for them. He’s going pro.”

“Ralph, he’s maybe 17 years old,” I said. “Anything can happen. He could get hurt or he could make a huge mistake and fall in love. He lives in Brookfield. Maybe he’s super rich and doesn’t have any drive to do anything but waste his dad’s money. He could also become a cokehead.”

“All I’m saying is that he’s going to play in the NFL one day,” Jones said.

“Like, get drafted by a team or actually play on the field after they snap the ball?” I asked.

“I’ll bet you $100 that he plays for an NFL team and is on the field for at least one snap,” he said.

“You’re on,” I said. “Hell, by the time I would have to pay you, I should have a real job anyway and 100 bucks shouldn’t be that tough to come up with.”

“Fine. 100 bucks, and all he has to do is play a snap in the NFL,” he said. “Thanks for the 100 bucks. It’s like an investment for me, really.”

The following year, Thomas announced he would be playing his college ball at the University of Wisconsin. Four years later, he would not only get drafted by an NFL team, but he would be the…wait for it…third overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. He would play not one but 10,363 snaps consecutively before bowing out to a torn triceps muscle last year.

Along the way, he would become one of only five players to ever be elected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first ten seasons, joining guys like Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, Mel Renfro and Merlin Olsen in that ring of honor. In 2014, he was named by his peers as the 18th-best player in the entire NFL. In 2016, he was named the 23rd-best player in the league, and in 2017, he was the named the 25th-best player in the league.

Thomas was also the only player in Browns history to earn the Walter Payton Man of the Year distinction multiple times (2010, 2012 and 2016), and he was selected as one of three finalists for the 2012 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Thomas is also the only player in Browns history to be voted as the PFWA Dino Lucarelli Good Guy award winner multiple times (2010 and 2013), an award for cooperation with the media and community involvement.

And most importantly, Joe Thomas cost me $100…

Wait, there’s more: Shoutout To This Crying Cincinnati Fan Who Almost Puked After The Bearcats Blew A 22-Point Lead Against Nevada

You have got to see this shit (Buffalo’s Zay Jones had himself one hell of a Monday night):

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