Gone fishin' -- A premature reflection of Joe Thomas's career as a Cleveland Brown.

Joe Thomas has been setting the hook for months. Will he retire or will he come back for one last hurrah with the Cleveland Browns? Spoiler alert: Let me be the first to wish Joe a long and happy retirement.
Joe Thomas doing what he does second best

I know. We are all supposed to pretend to wait with bated breath until tomorrow when Joe Thomas does his best Lebron James impression, stares into the camera and tells us that he's taking his talents to Lake Winnebago. Then we all snortle at Joe's self-deprecating style, revel at how much he "gets us" here in Northeast Ohio and wax sardonic about how the Cleveland Browns wasted his first ballot hall of fame career.

I'll be the first to admit my impatience with waiting for the big moment. I've allowed myself a head start. All five stages of grief have been checked off and I'm ready to watch Joe float off into the sunset.

The worst kept secret in Cleveland has really been out of the bag for a while. When you have 14 million reasons to play another season, but are "thinking about retirement" you are retired already.

When you transform yourself from a guy who would rather be on a boat with his dad on draft day into a guy who has something to say about anything and everything on social media, it's a pretty clear sign that you are transitioning into your new career.

Nobody can blame Joe. A no-win season, a serious injury and his valiant attempts to defend his over-matched head coach after that debacle of a season had to be an exhausting end to a ten-year career of personal success, but team futility.

So I'm ready to say goodbye to Joe. I'm filled with hope, not despair.

Rumor is the Browns are working hard to sign Nate Solder as Joe's replacement. Perhaps they've already worked out the deal and are honoring Joe's right to announce his retirement. That's not what fills me with hope. Not in the least bit.

Instead, it is the optimism that some day the Browns can be like the Patriots who do not really fret too much about losing an offensive tackle.

With the first and fourth picks of the draft, I dream that the Browns' best players in the future will be the kind of talent whose presence on the field on a given Sunday means the difference between losing football games and winning them.

Joe is a hell of a lot better pass blocking offensive tackle than Dave Verba ever was. Joe will probably make a better media personality than Ross Tucker has become. It was Verba and Tucker, not Joe Thomas, who played offensive tackle the last time the Browns appeared in a playoff game. That was five seasons before Joe was drafted by the Browns.

In contrast, the names have changed at offensive tackle for the Patriots since they won their first Superbowl in 2002 -- the same year that the Browns played their last playoff game. In fact, the names of the players at every other position on the field for the Patriots and almost every other NFL team have changed. One hasn't -- Tom Brady.

Here is hoping that the Cleveland Browns' next first ballot hall-of-famer is selected this year, wears a number lower than twenty and lines up behind the center. If that is the case, I guarantee that the results on the field will be different than they have been over the last ten years, regardless of who plays offensive tackle.

Here is hoping that Joe Thomas has an opportunity to be on the television call when it finally happens and the Browns win their first Superbowl.

Enough looking forward. This is a post to honor Joe.

Joe, thank you for giving your best years to the Cleveland faithful and being a truly outstanding member in the Cleveland community. You and your wife are civic gems.

Although your playing days have come to an end, may you continue to wield Paul Bunyan's axe in all of your future endeavors.
Your next teammates are waiting for you in Canton.

Gone fishin' -- A premature reflection of Joe Thomas's career as a Cleveland Brown. Gone fishin' -- A premature reflection of Joe Thomas's career as a Cleveland Brown. Reviewed by AT Dawgger on 10:07 PM Rating: 5

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