Browns’ Thomas picked for 10th straight Pro Bowl

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

CLEVE­LAND: Joe Thomas has fi­nally given the Cleve­land Browns some­thing to cel­e­brate dur­ing a ghastly sea­son. One of the game’s elite left of­fen­sive tack­les, Thomas was se­lected to his 10th con­sec­u­tive Pro Bowl last night, be­com­ing just the fifth player in NFL his­tory to be se­lected 10 straight times to open a ca­reer. Thomas, who has not missed a sin­gle snap since he was drafted in 2007, also holds the team record for most Pro Bowls, a mark he pre­vi­ously shared with Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Lou Groza.

“It’s al­ways an honor to be rec­og­nized by the fans, coaches and your peers,” Thomas said.

“It is a feel­ing that never gets old. When I think about Jim Brown and Lou Groza, I think about not just two of the great­est Browns, but two of the great­est play­ers to ever suit up in the NFL. It’s hum­bling to be men­tioned in the same sen­tence as them. Those guys helped the Browns cap­ture cham­pi­onships and that is one of my goals.

“In­di­vid­ual recog­ni­tion is al­ways nice, but I would trade it all for team suc­cess and that is what we work to­ward ev­ery day.” At 0-14, the Browns and their fans have had lit­tle to cheer about this sea­son. Thomas, though, is a light in the dark­ness.

“All right!” coach Hue Jack­son said on the prospect of Thomas be­ing hon­ored. “Some­thing to get ex­cited about.”

Thomas joined Hall of Famers Mer­lin Olsen (14), Mel Ren­fro (10), Barry San­ders (10) and Lawrence Tay­lor (10) as the only play­ers to make the Pro Bowl in each of their first 10 sea­sons.

A three-time Wal­ter Pay­ton Man of the Year hon­oree, Thomas has been on the field for all 9,791 of­fen­sive snaps since the Browns made him the No. 3 over­all pick in 2007. He’s started 158 games, do­ing so de­spite in­juries that may have side­lined other play­ers.

Be­yond his suc­cess on the field, Jack­son cred­its Thomas as one of the play­ers who have kept the Browns to­gether dur­ing the worst sea­son in the team’s 66-year his­tory.

“There’s sit­u­a­tions where you’d have a guy maybe that could be go­ing to his 10th Pro Bowl that says, ‘I’m do­ing my part. You guys fig­ure it out,’” quar­ter­back Josh McCown said.

“And Joe is not that way. He leads the groups. He’s in­volved in ev­ery meet­ing. He’s en­gaged, steps up and speaks and shares what’s on his heart if he needs to.

“That’s what makes him spe­cial and I cer­tainly be­lieve it’s why we’re all still locked in, be­cause you look no fur­ther than Joe to know if that guy’s go­ing to his 10th straight Pro Bowl and re­gard­less of the record, he’s still putting it on the line and pre­par­ing, then I ought to do that. “He’s a heck­uva in­spi­ra­tion to a lot of guys.”

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