The Cleveland Browns will see their first-ever modern player in Joe Thomas go into the Hall of Fame this summer.
Joe Thomas has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the first time a modern Cleveland Browns player has been elected to the Hall since the team came back in 1999. While the club has seen four players before Thomas get enshrined since the team returned, all four of them had played for the previous club, with the most recent being Ozzie Newsome, who retired in 1990 and was voted into the Hall in 1999.
Thomas represents the first modern player to be drafted in or after 1999 to go into the Hall of Fame, and while he deserves it, several other players were well on their way to the Hall of Fame before things derailed their careers.
So yes, Thomas is a pure, authentic, and undeniable first-ballot Hall of Famer, but there were guys who left the league before Thomas who at one point in time looked like they could be Hall of Fame-bound had the team not screwed them up, or had injuries not taken them.
All three players had the talent to get in, but they did not have the stats or post-season accolades. The losing didn’t help either. All that said, all three could be inducted into the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor or Legends programs at some point in the near future.
So who were the three names that were trending toward Hall of Fame status before Joe Thomas? Well, let’s see.