"I will always be a Cleveland Brown."
Future NFL Hall of Famer Joe Thomas announced his retirement today after 11 seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
The 33-year old left tackle was drafted by the Browns third overall out of Wisconsin in 2007, and he started every game until he tore his triceps tendon on October 22. His streak of 10,363 consecutive snaps is the longest in NFL history.
Thomas made the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons, only missing the cut once due to his injury last season. According to ESPN, his 10 Pro Bowls in 10 seasons are a Browns record, one year more than Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Lou Groza.
The Cleveland Browns only had one winning season during Thomas' tenure, as they went 48-128 overall in his 11 seasons, but he never requested a trade or pouted about hopeless seasons. In announcing his retirement today, he spoke highly of the loyal fan base and says he is proud to call Cleveland home.
"This was an extremely difficult decision, but the right one for me and my family," Thomas said. "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 [for] 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."