Thomas named Browns Man of the Year

Posted Dec 6, 2012

Joe Thomas has been named the Cleveland Browns' 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year, the team announced Thursday morning.

Offensive lineman Joe Thomas has been selected as the Cleveland Browns 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year. Thomas is the only player in team history to earn the honor twice as he was also the club’s selection in 2010. Renamed in 1999 after legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, this honor recognizes a player’s off the field community service activities as well as his playing excellence. The three NFL finalists will be announced at a later date, and each will be present at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on February 3, 2013, for the announcement of the NFL Man of the Year. The award has been given annually since 1970 and past winners include many of the league’s greatest players, 13 of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Thomas has made a profound impact in Northeast Ohio, both on and off the field. He has illustrated unwavering passion and support to help others. Since his arrival to the Browns in 2007, he has been an advocate for hunger relief efforts through the Cleveland Foodbank. In support of the organization he has served as the Honorary Co-Chair for the Taste of the Browns fundraiser each of the past four years. In addition, he has provided Thanksgiving meals to hundreds of families over the years.

Always looking to help those in need, earlier this year Thomas made the largest individual financial contribution that the “Kids in Need Resource Center” has ever received. The center helps provide school supplies for more than 180 schools in impoverished areas. Thomas also founded the “Blue Collar Corner” season ticket program which provided tickets, apparel and food for the Cleveland Building and Trades Council. In addition, he founded the “Thomas’ Troops” season ticket program which provided tickets, apparel and food for the USO of Northern Ohio to host men and women who serve our country every home game.

Thomas has a deep connection with those who serve our country. In 2010, he traveled more than 14,000 miles round trip to visit troops in Afghanistan through the NFL/USO Tour. To this day he is still in contact with some of the troops he met during that trip. Upon his return, Thomas has supported a national USO campaign to raise additional funds in support of our troops, lending his name to the nationwide effort.

Joe and his wife, Annie, are also committed to other causes including the local Animal Protective League, the Make A Wish Foundation, Providence House and the Cleveland Browns Courage House by serving as an Honorary Co-Chair. He has also served as a spokesman for both the United Way and Fuel Up to Play 60. The Thomas’ also participated in the Browns Adopt-A-Family program through The Littlest Heroes, an organization that works with kids diagnosed with cancer and their families. Next week, Thomas will offer local kids a unique holiday shopping experience through the annual Shop with the Pro, which he will headline.

As the Browns’ Man of the Year, the NFL will provide a donation to a charity on Thomas’ behalf. He has a selected Team Rubicon USA, a non-profit founded by a former college teammate, who also served our country through the United States Marines. The NFL Man of the Year's designated 501(c)(3) non-profit charity receives a $25,000 donation in his name. Non-profit organizations selected by the other 31 teams each receive a $1,000 donation, while the three finalists receive an additional $5,000 to support their chosen non-profit charities.

This Sunday, representatives of organizations supported by Thomas will join the Browns to form the gauntlet during player introductions during the team’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

On the field, Thomas has started all 92 career games at left tackle and has not missed an offensive snap since joining the Browns as the third overall pick in 2007. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his five NFL seasons, joining Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown as the only Browns to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of their first five years in the league. In addition, Thomas has been selected to numerous All-Pro teams during his career.

Cleveland Browns Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

1999 OG Jim Pyne

2000 LB Jamir Miller

2001 LB Wali Rainer

2002 RB Jamel White

2003 QB Kelly Holcomb

2004 DE Kenard Lang

2005 QB Trent Dilfer

2006 QB Charlie Frye

2007 WR Braylon Edwards

2008 K Phil Dawson

2009 WR Mike Furrey*

2010 OL Joe Thomas

2011 WR Joshua Cribbs

2012 OL Joe Thomas

*Denotes NFL finalist

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