Over the offseason, thousands of fans voted in our "Team For the Ages" contest to construct the best imaginable 50-man roster from the NFL’s modern era, which began in 1967. The votes have been counted, and we’re unveiling one player each weekday between now and the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season.
The entire Team For the Ages roster will be unveiled at "Football Legends LIVE!" Sept. 8 in Crystal Lake, Ill. Tickets are on sale now: https://shawmediaevents.com/e/pfw50
OT Joe Thomas
The No. 3 pick in the 2007 NFL draft, Thomas spent the next decade becoming one of the NFL's most reliable and effective blockers in league history. His iron-man streak reached an incredible 167 consecutive starts — with an even more stunning 10,363 plays without missing a snap — before a ruptured triceps injury ended his 2017 season. Previously, he had suffered three torn MCLs, two high ankle sprains and a significant elbow injury but found ways to play through the pain and limitations.
Thomas retired this past offseason, setting an impossibly high bar to match for his successor in Cleveland. The Browns went only 48-119 in games Thomas started, including losing all but two of his final 34 games.
They said it
"I guess I'm just a guy that tries to show up and do his job every day."
— Thomas in 2017, as he approached his 10,000th consecutive snap played
Thomas allowed 30 sacks in his career — over nearly 7,000 pass-blocking snaps — per Pro Football Focus. His replacement last season, Spencer Drango, allowed 11 sacks in 11 games played last season.
Did you know?
Thomas protected 20 Browns starting quarterbacks in his career and lined up next to 10 different left guards, including nine over his final seven seasons.
Thomas made the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons — an accomplishment that only Hall of Famers Merlin Olsen (14), Mel Renfro (10), Barry Sanders (10) and Lawrence Taylor (10) achieved previously.
We messaged Thomas for his thoughts on this. He offered up a 2012 game against the Dallas Cowboys. DeMarcus Ware came into the matchup against Thomas with 9.5 sacks in nine games that season and at least half a sack in all but one game.
Thomas and Ware didn't face off on every snap that game, and Ware did notch half a sack against Thomas (on a play on which Ware appeared to jump the snap but wasn't flagged). But true to Thomas' memory, it was a nearly perfect, textbook of how to neutralize an elite rusher with outstanding technique, instincts and toughness — a terrific snapshot of Thomas' brilliant individual career.
Previous "Team for the Ages" player announcements