Offensive Linemen – Joe Thomas
What can be said about the greatest of all time? Joe Thomas was rock solid at the left tackle position for over a decade. Going third overall in the 2007 NFL Draft, Thomas didn’t just become a stalwart player or Pro Bowler at the position but a Hall of Famer. He’s on his way to Canton to get his gold jacket, and when he does he’ll be the first Cleveland Browns Hall of Famer since Ozzie Newsome, who retired from the game in 1990.
Thomas isn’t just a folklore hero like Daniel ‘Boobie’ Gibson, but an actual, no-doubt-about-it icon in the sport of pro football. His play at left tackle for 11 years was beyond anything anyone could’ve hoped for. He became a player who fans loved and admired not just for his loyalty to the franchise but his desire to forgo post-season opportunities elsewhere and stay in Cleveland in order to remain true to the fanbase that embraced him so openly.
Thomas never really had anyone under center that could lead the team to success, save for that one year in 2007 when Thomas was a rookie and where Derek Anderson went off statistically all the way to the Pro Bowl. Beyond that, Thomas spent his entire career with every rookie, wing-and-a-prayer, and project that the team brought in at quarterback.
Sure, Thomas was more loyal than smart sometimes. Namely that time when Thomas defended the worst head coach in Cleveland Browns’ history; Hue Jackson. Yeah, Jackson’s a good guy. There’s no doubt about it. He won three games in three years and Thomas should know he wasn’t the guy.
So yeah, Thomas was loyal, honorable and the best tackle in not just franchise history but pro football history. That said, you don’t gain a lot of credibility defending the ineptitude of Jackson.