Joe Thomas’ retirement press conference took place Monday afternoon in the Berea fieldhouse, and it was fantastic. After a few words from team owner Jimmy Haslam, Thomas took the stage...and proceeded to start his own roast.
I will highlight one big portion of Thomas’ presser, and that was “the good times.” Memories that, us Browns fans know very well too because good moments have been hard to come by.
“Seriously though, I know that I joke a little bit and try to have fun with things. I have had a lot of outstanding memories in my 11 years in Cleveland. One memory, if you will please allow me to stroll down memory lane a little bit – it is something I will never forget – after the biggest road comeback in NFL history, dancing in the locker room with myself and our quarterback at the time (former Browns QB) Brian Hoyer. Me being able to prove to everyone, once and for all, that myself, the Vanilla Volcano, was a better dancer than Brian Hoyer. That was a big moment in my career.
One moment I will never forget is being in Baltimore on the road. I was a young player at the time. (Former Browns K) Phil Dawson kicks a field goal to try to tie it to go into overtime. It looked like it had bounced off the goal post and bounced out. Everyone went into the locker room. We thought the game was over. We thought we lost. The refs actually reviewed it. They saw that the ball actually hit something called a stanchion, which is something that I really did not even know what it was until that moment. They brought everyone back on the field. We ended up going into overtime and winning the game. That is a moment that will be burned in my memory forever. I think it might actually be the only time that I won in Baltimore during my career.
Of course, another moment I will never forget is the (former Browns Head Coach) Rob Chudzinski era. Both of those days were outstanding (laughter). Of course, a lot of great team records when I was here. (Former Browns RB) Jerome Harrison set the rushing record against Kansas City. That was one of the most fun games that I have ever been able to play in. I think we had almost 300 yards rushing and a couple kick return touchdowns by (former Browns WR/KR) Josh Cribbs. Just the feeling to go out there, play after play, and impose your will on a defense and to be able to continue to run the ball the way we wanted, that was a lot of fun. That was something that I will never forget.
Of course, (former Browns QB) Josh McCown set a passing record for the Browns. (WR) Josh Gordon set a receiving record for yards receiving in a season, and he did that in only  games. I am proud to be a part of that. In 2009, we won four games in a row at the end of the season after starting 1-11, sort of a small milestone for us, but I think it was a team record at the time and it was really fun to see that team come together towards the end of that season and put together that winning streak.
Of course, something I will tell to maybe my kids some day is when I got to 10,000 straight snaps and (Cavaliers F) LeBron James tweeted at me. Of course, when I retired, he tweeted at me again. I would like to tweet back at him some day. Hopefully, that is not for a long time because I still love watching him play.
Another highlight was during training camp. We always have swimming races in the pool. I was able to dominate my competition so much this season that they renamed the pool after me. It is now the Joe Thomas Natatorium (laughter, including audible laugh from Thomas’ son). My son liked that one (laughter). In 2017, we went 4-0 in the preseason and were declared ‘Preseason World Champions.’ That is going to be on my grave (laughter). The reality is I just felt that for me the time was right to retire because I knew that Hue was going to make the rest of the team jump in the lake with him this year, and I didn’t think I would be able to handle it. I am not as tough as I used to be (laughter). “
After Thomas was finished with his initial speech, the part I saw him get choked up at was when ESPN’s Pat McManamon grabbed a microphone and announced that the local Pro Football Writers Association has decided that, from here on out, the team’s Player of the Year Award will be called the “Joe Thomas Award.”
Capping off the night, Thomas embraced with another Cleveland sports legend, LeBron James, at The Q before the Cavaliers tipped off against the Milwaukee Bucks.