A story Browns fans might not know about Joe Thomas. Mike Pettine tried to sit him in 2014, but the future Hall of Famer wasn’t having it.
Joe Thomas played his 10,000th straight snap during a forgettable Browns performance against the Ravens, and it almost didn’t happen.
Joe Thomas’ consecutive snaps streak now stands at 10,062, following the Browns ugly loss to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday.
Thomas’ streak does rival that of Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive games streak, just because Thomas is in the trenches of the National Football League. There are no off plays for the former No. 3 overall pick. He faces conflict every single down.
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Just think of how many lineman the Browns have burned through over the years? The broken legs, the Lis Franc surgeries, the knee problems, the high ankle sprains.
What Thomas is doing is Ironmanesque.
Some know how Thomas’ streak almost ended, when he suffered ligament damage during the season finale in 2012. Thomas suffered an LCL [lateral collateral ligament] injury and didn’t know if he’d be able to play. But it was near the end of the game and Thomas was able to grind it out to the finish.
But I’d never heard the story of how Mike Pettine tried to bench the perennial Pro Bowler.
It was 2014, and the Browns were actually blowing out the Steelers in October. Pettine’s offensive line was banged up, and he wanted to preserve Thomas by replacing him with Vincent Painter.
Thomas knew he was working his way toward achieving something special around the 2012 or 2013 seasons, and wasn’t going to leave the contest, according to the MMQB’s Peter King.
"“Yeah, the famous Vinston Painter incident,” Thomas said, laughing, on Sunday. “I was not hurt, but they sent Vinston in to replace me. I think they were just paranoid after Alex Mack got hurt. But Vinston got out there, and I wasn’t leaving.”"
It’s ironic that Pettine was trying save Thomas, during a Browns win, because the victory column’s been pretty lonely during Thomas’ career in Cleveland. Don’t pile on Pettine, the guy probably had no clue about what Thomas’ was accomplishing.
That 2014 campaign looked so promising, with Cleveland owning a 7-4 mark following a huge Thursday Night win against Cincinnati.
And then the Browns went full-blown Browns, and are 4-35 since Thanksgiving of 2014.
Will Thomas ever see a winning team in Cleveland? It’s unlikely. He has just one year left on his contract.
Perhaps he retires, or perhaps he signs with a contending team.
Either way, I think it’s unlikely he re-signs with Cleveland, considering throwing a ton of money at an over 30 offensive lineman would go against the grain of what the analytically oriented front office, in theory, preaches.