CLEVELAND--Joe Thomas has started 167 straight games for the Cleveland Browns, having never missed a snap since his rookie year in 2007. That all ended on Sunday, when he suffered an injury to his triceps that will end his season, fulfilling a career-long dream of getting hurt and not having to play with the Cleveland Browns anymore.
“Wow that was painful,” Thomas said after the game. “I was participating in a routine play and all of a sudden I felt my triceps tear like a piece of paper. Ouch! And I thought, could this be it? Could this finally be happening to me? Yes. Yes it was. After 10 freaking years of playing every down for this miserable shit factory of a team, I finally achieved my dream of getting hurt. It goes to show you if you're persistent enough, you can accomplish anything - except winning a game.”
During Thomas’ tenure with the team, the Browns have won just 48 games and lost 118, an amazing run that has taken place despite his Hall of Fame-level play at left tackle.
“God I'm unlucky,” Thomas said. “Here I am, the best player on a cover-your-eyes-awful team and I am cursed with this amazing durability. I couldn’t miss a goddamn snap if somebody dropped a safe on my head. And it wasn't for lack of trying either. I've played the past four years with my shoes untied.”
During his 167 game streak, West played a staggering 10, 363 straight snaps. In that time, he saw dozens of teammates limp off the field with injuries while he was forced to stay in the game and continue being a Cleveland Brown.
“For so long it was other people getting hurt,” Thomas said. “I would stand there and watch them leave the field, grimacing in pain, and I would think 'Why not me?' Looking back, however, I believe it was all for the best. Because I went through all that suffering, I can appreciate ripping my triceps on a deeper level than most people.”
This year’s Browns team is currently 0-7 and stuck in an extended rebuilding process that has no end in sight. To his credit, Thomas has never asked for a trade or publicly complained about his team, something that distinguishes him from his teammates.
“Oh, this place is horrible,” said running back Isaiah Crowell. “We are like the only team whose rebuilding process is turning out worse than the thing we were trying to rebuild. We’ve had more quarterbacks since I’ve been here than season ticket holders. I’m so happy for Joe, though. I feel like Red when Andy escaped Shawshank. I miss him, but he was just rotting away here. Maybe he’ll send me a postcard I can stare at wistfully while I’m standing in the huddle.”
As to how he plans to spend his time away from the team, Thomas had this to say:
“I’ll be rehabbing. It’ll be arduous and torturous and painful and boring and tedious but you know what it won't be? Playing for the Cleveland Browns. In other words it'll be a dream vacation.”
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