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Armando Salguero is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector who presented new Hall of Famer Zach Thomas at the latest selector committee meeting. This was his presentation:
You’ve selected Zach Thomas to be among the final 10 each of the last three years. So it stands to reason you think he’s been on the doorstep of getting into Canton for some time now.
When I was considering what to say to convince you to take that next step and let Zach in the Pro Football Hall of Fame I came to this:
Simply share what Hall of Famers or likely Hall of Famers are imploring you to do. And share what the statistics are blaring at you to do.
So please know that …
They All Believe Zach Thomas a Hall of Famer
Bill Belichick believes Zach Thomas should be in the Hall of Fame.
Drew Brees believes Thomas should be in the Hall of Fame.
Peyton Manning believes Thomas should be in the Hall of Fame.
Jason Taylor, Steve Atwater, Brian Urlacher, Curtis Martin and Tony Boselli believe Thomas belongs in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m not sure what the argument against him could be,” Boselli said.
Jimmy Johnson and Kevin Mawae openly advocated for Thomas to be in the Hall of Fame during their induction speeches.
Mawae told me he made that plea because the epic battles the two engaged in helped him understand how great Thomas was and how to get the best out of himself. Mawae referred to Thomas as his “nemesis in his induction speech. And he described to me the games between them this way:
“I was his Larry Bird and he was my Magic Johnson.”
The GOAT LB Believes In Zach Thomas
Last week I spent some time speaking with Ray Lewis.
I asked Ray does he think Zach Thomas should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Yes, absolutely …,” Lewis said. “If you go down the list of great players in the NFL who played that middle linebacker position, you’re going to include Zach Thomas. With that should come a gold jacket. He has my vote. If I was voting, Zach Thomas has my vote all day.”
We all know Lewis wanted to be the best at what he did and he accomplished that. Well, I come to find out a motivational tool he used in achieving that was constantly comparing himself to one other linebacker during his career …
“From the moment we stepped on the field, there were a couple of guys back then that it was a real competition, right, where you were paying attention to how many tackles and stats they had. Zach was that guy for me,” Lewis said. “So every week I’m looking and thinking, ‘What the frick, this man is fricken everywhere!’
“That helped make me better.”
Crunching The Thomas Numbers
You heard earlier within this meeting that we have to compare today’s candidates to Hall of Famers to help us decide if they’re also Hall of Famers.
Zach Thomas finished with more tackles than 28 of the 32 linebackers enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Zach had more tackles than Brian Urlacher. Twice as many as Carl Banks, and 246 more than Mike Singletary. Last year, this body voted Sam Mills into the Hall of Fame. Zach had 300 more tackles than Mills.
A Hall of Fame linebacker, however, should also be about game-defining plays. Impact!
Zach had more defensive touchdowns than Junior Seau, Lawrence Taylor, Willie Lanier, Ray Nitsche, Dick Butkus, Jack Lambert and Mike Singletary. He had more defensive touchdowns than Ray Lewis.
Interceptions? Zach had more than Harry Carson, Singletary and Mills.
Zach was All-Pro five times.
That’s as many as Butkus, more than Urlacher, more than Lanier, more than Sam Huff, more than Harry Carson, and four more than Sam Mills.
What does this mean on the field?
Brady And Manning Talk Zach Thomas
It means Hall of Fame running backs Thurman Thomas, Marshall Faulk and LaDainian Tomlinson never gained 100 rushing yards in their 15 games against Thomas.
Finally, we talked earlier about how Jerry Rice was reverential in talking about Albert Lewis and how that was impressive. Consider this reverence:
Two years ago, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were on national TV talking about the toughest defenses and defensive players they ever faced. They talked about how Thomas and his defense affected them.
“We couldn’t move,” Brady said, “couldn’t complete passes.”
“Yeah, Zach Thomas,” Manning interjected.
“Yeah,” Brady agreed.
Let’s ALL agree today with these great of the game. Zach Thomas belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.