Videos by OutKick
CANTON — The number is 10,363.
It is the number of a great servant. Of an NFL career.
It’s the number of a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Joe Thomas is all about that number. It represents the number of consecutive snaps he took during his 11 year-career.
“I want to start by talking about a random number— the number 10,363. Not too random,” Thomas said at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium during his enshrinement on Saturday. “That’s how many consecutive snaps I had in my career. From my first snap as a rookie in 2007 to my last snap when I tore my triceps [in 2017], that’s how long this journey has been.
“That number 10,363 is special to me in many ways. And not just because it’s an NFL record, but because it shows that I was there for my brothers 10,363 times in a row. They could count on me.”
Browns’ Joe Thomas Enters Hall Of Fame
That gaudy number means more than that. As Thomas explained:
“Loyalty, consistency, something bigger than yourself, showing up for the man next to you,” he said.
Thomas didn’t just show up. He was present and a presence.
Thomas was on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s. So for a decade he was among the best of the best.
He also made the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons, tying the standard set by Hall of Famers Merlin Olsen, Mel Renfro, Lawrence Taylor and Barry Sanders.
Yes, folks, a Gold Jacket has to be earned.
But Thomas had a career of excellence surrounded by a lot of mediocrity.
The Browns during the years he played generally were among the NFL’s hapless teams. Thomas played with 16 quarterbacks which speaks to, well, a problem for a team that was constantly searching for a good player at the most important position.
Not A Lot Of Success For Browns
And yet the Browns offensive line, which Thomas led, was often among the best in the NFL. So he remembered them in his speech. He concentrated on them.
“We were in the trenches when it was 95 degrees in August, and when it was December and snow storms were blowing off the sandy beaches of Lake Erie,” Thomas said to the mass of Browns fans who traveled a few miles down the road to Canton.
“The misery that bonds offensive lineman as brothers for life is something people who never play the position just can’t understand. Alex Mack, Jason Pinkston, Mitchell Schwartz, John Greco, Hank Fraley, Eric Steinbach, and Joel Bitonio, to name just a few guys I played next to, thank you for always showing up for me.”
Thomas and his offensive line mates shared a kinship. And so even the players who sat behind him on the depth chart for that decade he never took a play off got a mention.
“To all my backup left tackles with the Browns, I’m sorry, but thanks for taking all of those practice reps for me so the trainers could tape me together like Mr. Potato Head and wheel me out for game days,” Thomas said sheepishly.
That’s what happens when someone plays 10,363 consecutive snaps.