Zach Thomas Cried When Jimmy Johnson Surprised Him With Pro Football Hall Of Fame ‘Knock’

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PHOENIX — Zach Thomas has been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Thomas, who played 13 NFL seasons all of them except one with the Miami Dolphins, is one of nine greats who will be enshrined into the Hall in Canton on Aug. 5.

Thomas received the so-called knock from the Hall of Fame on Jan. 26. And it was amazing.

Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson interviews Zach Thomas on the day he received the so-called knock which announced to him he’d been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Photo: Katina Thomas).

Hall Of Fame ‘Knock’ For The Ages

The Thomas family made certain Thomas was out running errands that Thursday afternoon. When he returned home, former coach and current Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson was there to greet him. Johnson waiting at the top of a staircase when Thomas walked in his house.

Once Thomas saw Johnson standing there, wearing his gold jacket, the former middle linebacker knew he had made it into the Hall of Fame.

“I tell you what man, I cried,” Thomas said. “I came up the stairs in shorts and a t-shirt and I see Jimmy in that gold jacket and I’m like, ‘Oh, (bleep)!’ And I froze. I couldn’t believe it, man.

“Seeing him at the top of my stairs was a moment I will never forget. Powerful and emotional. It worked out perfectly. The family was here. My brother was here. It was perfect.”

Hall of Fame linebacker Zach Thomas. (Getty Images)

Hall Of Fame Class Includes First-Ballot Players

Also voted into the Hall of Fame with Thomas as modern era finalists are linebacker DeMarcus Ware, offensive tackle Joe Thomas, cornerback Darrelle Revis, and cornerback Ronde Barber.

Joe Thomas and Revis are first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Hall of Fame cornerback Darrelle Revis. (Getty Images)

Defensive lineman Joe Klecko, linebacker Chuck Howley, and defensive back Ken Riley made the Hall of Fame as a senior committee finalists. Coach Don Coryell made the Hall of Fame as a coach/contributor committee finalist.

Along with Zach Thomas, Howley, Klecko, Revis, Joe Thomas, and Ware learned of their election when a Hall of Famer knocked at their door.

Revis got his knock from Hall of Famer Ty Law. Klecko got his proverbial knock from Hall of Famer Joe Namath.

Zach Thomas makes it into the Hall in his fourth year as a finalist. There were two other players in their fourth year as finalists — receivers Reggie Wayne and Torry Holt — but Thomas is the only one of that group to make the Hall.

Thomas Reveals Greatest Day Of Career

Learning he’s a Hall of Famer was a great day for Thomas. But he says it was not the greatest day of his professional career.

“One hundred percent it was the day I got drafted,” Thomas said. “The dream my whole childhood was to get an opportunity. That day was special.”

That day in the spring of 1996 led to many other special days, even if Thomas would rate those behind his draft day.

Thomas won a starting job after his first preseason game.

His instant impact as a rookie included 131 tackles, two sacks, and team MVP honors. He was named AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year in ’96.

Thomas led the Dolphins in tackles 10 seasons. He made over 100 tackles in each of his first 11 seasons.

He was a five-time All-Pro first-team selection and twice was second-team.

And now he’s a Hall of Famer, which has a good ring to it.

“It does,” Thomas said with a smile. “I like that. When you can put that HOF behind your name, that’s crazy.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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