Cleveland Browns mainstay Joe Thomas announced his retirement from football on Wednesday after an 11-year NFL career that almost will certainly land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Thomas, a 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle, played in every snap for the Browns from when he was drafted in 2007 until he suffered a triceps injury in October 2017.
That amounted to 10,363 snaps, a record the team plans to enshrine in its 2018 Ring of Honor.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) March 14, 2018
"This was an extremely difficult decision, but the right one for me and my family," said Thomas.
"Playing in the NFL has taken a toll on my body and I can no longer physically compete at the level I need to.
"From the moment I was drafted, the city embraced me in a way that I could never fully describe. I am proud to call Cleveland home.
"The loyalty and passion of the fans is unmatched and it was an honor to play in front of them from the past 11 years.
"I would like to thank all of the coaches, teammates, staff, fans and everyone who has shown me support throughout my career.
"Even though I will be hanging up my cleats, I will always be a Cleveland Brown."
Though his career was marked by his excellence and endurance, he also was part of an era of unrivaled quarterback ineptitude. In his career, he protected a seemingly endless parade of starting QBs.
Thomas' decision to retire comes as a disappointment for Hue Jackson, who was hoping he would return for a 12th season.
"Joe means so much to me both personally and professionally," said Jackson. "Joe has been not just a tremendous Cleveland Brown, but one of the best to ever play in the National Football League."
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 14, 2018
The Browns prepared for Thomas' departure, signing free agent tackles Donald Stephenson and Chris Hubbard during the offseason.