From Cleveland to Brazil: Joe Thomas speaks about the Browns future

10/maio/17


It is hard to talk about everything that makes Joe Thomas so effective; he’s probably the quintessential offensive tackle: nobody in the NFL can use their hands better or has the same reaction power.

Joe’s individual accomplishments make us realize how good he really is. After all, since he entered the league in 2007, watching a Browns game was, for a long time, summed in watching the OT’s game: 160 games (he started all games since he was drafted) and 10 trips to the Pro Bowl.

On the other hand, Joe also saw 18 quarterbacks, 8 offensive coordinators and 6 head coaches passing through Cleveland in that span. All these changes led the Browns to just 48 wins, 10 of those in his first year as a player and, since then, just one season with more than 5 (7 in 2013).

The selection

Joe was drafted right after Calvin Johnson. Adrian Peterson came off the board four spots after the Wisconsin lineman. Patrick Willis, the linebacker who made history playing for the San Francisco 49ers and Marshawn Lynch, drafted by the Buffalo Bills, were picks 11 and 12 that year. Darrelle Revis was number 14 and the likes of Eric Weddle and Ryan Kalil were drafted only in the second round.

In my freshman year in college, coaches questioned me whether I’d like to participate in the Scouting Combine, to measure my status for the draft”, Joe remembers. “Until that day, I’d never really thought of reaching the NFL, even with a few more years with the Badgers ahead”.

Combine results showed he would be drafted in the beginning of the first round and amplified Joe’s perception: in that moment, he realized the NFL would become a reality. Years later, with the third pick, the Browns drafted Thomas. And, even if the Draft is generally an erroneous science, it is almost unquestionable that, among that years’ picks, Joe has built one of the most solid careers so far.

A nice guy!

A long winter

Thomas landed in Cleveland at the same time as the Cavs were flirting with the NBA Finals and the city was trying to purge its sports curses trough LeBron James, Akron’s prodigy son. “Definitely, there is a different buzz”, Thomas joked in a Grantland interview at the time. “But I know that even if the people are happy about having a great basketball team, deep down, Cleveland is still a football city”.

And even if neither the Cavaliers nor the Browns won titles in 2007, there was a clear excitement in Ohio; Browns won 10 games in Thomas’ rookie season. “You heard about Believeland. People used to hold posters in the stadium. It looked like it was coming back. But in the following year we had a bad season and since then we got into ‘reset mode’”.

The last “reset”

With each new quarterback and each new head coach, Joe realized this also meant two or three more years of rebuilding, and that pushed him away from his objectives: to make the Browns a winning team. After years in this process, projections are great now.

I think the Browns are gonna be much better this year. We’ve had a huge infusion of talent from free agency and more recently from the draft. I think Sashi Brown did an excellent job during the draft picking talented players while also adding picks in future years”, says Joe, who promises to be a mentor to the rookies. “My favorite thing to tell young players is: be on time, pay attention, and work hard. Those are three simple things but they are the keys to success in the NFL”.

Maybe for the first time, Thomas doesn’t hide his excitement: in his Twitter account, Joe affirmed that Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers and David Njoku will all be Hall of Famers. And if the future reserves better days to Cleveland, nothing is better than making the franchise global.

I’m really excited to be playing in London this upcoming season and hope the NFL will continue to expand in future years, including Brazil”, says. “I think this international expansion is one of the best things the NFL has done recently. It’s important for us to realize how many fans we have in other countries and how eager those fans are to be able to enjoy the fantastic NFL product in person”.

*Special thanks to @ShikSundar and @EulerBropleh for making this possible.

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