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Thomas revels in adverse conditions

Posted Nov 23, 2013

Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas revels in the possibility of playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in cold and snowy conditions at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.

Be it Miami or Honolulu, Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas has ended each of his first six NFL seasons playing in hot-weather cities, but it is a good thing the 6-foot-6, 312-pound native of Wisconsin knows how to handle cold weather.

Early forecasts for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium are calling for high temperatures of 25 degrees with a low of 20, in addition to a 40-percent chance of snow and winds out of the Northwest at 19 miles-an-hour.

“I think that’s the way football should be played, in the cold weather outside, in the grass in a good AFC North battle with two tough teams, good defenses,” Thomas said with a grin earlier this week. “I love those types of games.

“Those are the types of games I grew up watching. Growing up in Wisconsin, seeing those games in the cold and snow, you could see everybody’s breath. Those are fun games. Those are the games that you dream about playing in when you’re a kid.”

Playing at the University of Wisconsin for four seasons and now, in the middle of his seventh year in Cleveland, Thomas has competed in many games in sub-freezing temperatures, including a certified blizzard against the Buffalo Bills in 2007 and the Steelers in a negative-degree wind chill on a Thursday night in December of 2009.

In both of those cases, the Browns earned victories, which makes playing in frigid temperatures all the more enjoyable for Thomas.

“Winning’s more fun,” Thomas said. “That’s why you play. That’s where the fun is. I like playing in the snow, so there’s no ‘double-bad.’ The bad would’ve been if we would’ve lost. Then, it becomes miserable. It was a close game that whole game (against Buffalo), and I think it’s fun. It’s like being a kid when you go out and it’s cold and snowy.”

Although he and “probably most of the linemen” embrace the opportunity to play in the cold weather, Thomas admits the “skill guys” may not enjoy the experience quite as much.

“You just understand that it’s a part of the game,” said running back Chris Ogbonnaya, a native of Houston, Texas. “You prepare yourself during the week, and we have different types of things that we wear. Whether it’s cleats or some guys like to wear sleeves or tights underneath, everybody does their own things to prepare. It’ll be a good opportunity for us to go out, and at the end of the day, we still have to play a game and you can’t let it affect you.”

And should more carries come his way because of the adverse weather conditions, Ogbonnaya will welcome the added work.

“You have to if that’s what happens throughout the course of the game,” Ogbonnaya said. “You have to relish that opportunity and make the most of it.”