The Highlight: NFL ironman Joe Thomas has complicated feelings on the Browns, his injury and possible retirement 

The Highlight: NFL ironman Joe Thomas has complicated feelings on the Browns, his injury and possible retirement 

On Oct. 22 the NFL saw its most incredible streak finally bite the dust.

All-pro left tackle Joe Thomas hadn't missed a snap since being selected No. 3 overall by the Cleveland Browns back in 2007. 10,363 consecutive plays spread over 10 and half seasons. Absolutely insane.

Thomas tore his left triceps trying to block Brian Orakpo of the Tennessee Titans. Now, he might be calling it a career.

Thomas walks us through his gamut of emotions in a guest column for Sports Illustrated.

"I got the X-ray, then I went into the locker room," said Thomas. "The game was on TV. But I was just thinking … so many emotions. Despair. Sadness that I wouldn’t be out there with the guys. Sadness over the end of the streak. Worry for all the people who’d be worried about me—my family, my kids, Annie, my teammates. But also the feeling that I’d played 10-and-a-half years, and if I was going to get hurt, there were much worse injuries than tearing your triceps.

"On Monday, all those thoughts continued, and so many more. What’s it gonna be like watching? What’s IR like—I’ve never been on it. Was that the last snap I’d ever take in the NFL? Am I gonna keep playing next year, at 33? Retirement … I haven’t put a lot of thought into it, and this is not the right time to think about it. Too many emotions. Part of me says, I don’t want to go out like this. I want try to do the Jerome Bettis. But the other part says, No way you can make a smart decision about that now."

Watching his first Browns game from the sidelines, Thomas admits he was conflicted over seeing his team move on without him.

"You wonder how you’re going to feel watching your team for the first time. That’s the obvious question. If we played well, would I feel lousy because it showed they really don’t need me? If we played terrible, would I feel good because it showed they desperately need me? I thought I might have felt emotions like that. But I have to say, watching the game late in the third quarter, with a lead over a good team, I’ve been through so many losses that it was exciting to see us so competitive.

"My biggest fear about watching the game is that I would be needed, and I wouldn’t be there for them. That didn’t happen. Watching the game, I thought: This is as good as I’ve felt since I hurt myself."

Read the rest of Thomas' excellent column here.


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