It should only take one series for Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas to make history in Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. In four more plays, Thomas will have 10,000 snaps to his name—and consecutive snaps at that. At present, that number stands at 9,996, which is believed to be the longest streak for any player in NFL history.
Thomas, drafted by the Browns with the third-overall pick in 2007, has never missed a game nor a play, starting in all of his 161 games. And he’s also not lost a step, with the 10-time Pro Bowler still earning high marks for his pass- and run-blocking.
Pro Football Focus named Thomas their Team of the Week left tackle for his performance in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers after allowing one pressure—a sack by Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt—in 41 pass-blocking snaps. He was PFF’s leader, by grade, among all tackles for the first week of the season:
Given that Thomas has been on the field for so long and in the toughest position to play on the offensive line, it’s nearly unbelievable that he’s allowed only 39.25 sacks over his 11 seasons. According to the accounting of STATS (via the Washington Post), he’s never allowed more than six in a season—in 2009; last year, that number was just 3.5 and in 2015, only .5. Few players are so consistent and even fewer, so durable and reliable to put forth such a lengthy career.
Few are also so loyal, with Thomas choosing to spend the entirety of his NFL career in Cleveland, despite his first season also being his only experience on a winning team. As Thomas said to the MMQB’s Greg A. Bedard last year, “I'm a Cleveland Brown, that’s who I am and I'm not going to change allegiances just to get a Super Bowl title. I want to do it as a Cleveland Brown because that's who I am.”