The Browns in 2022 will induct legendary offensive tackle Joe Thomas and the late Darrel "Pete" Brewster into the Legends program, the exclusive group reserved for players who left indelible impacts on the franchise.
Both alumni will be honored in the Browns' home opener in Week 2 against the Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium during a halftime ceremony.
"We always appreciate the opportunity to celebrate our alumni at the start of the season and throughout the year," Dee and Jimmy Haslam said. "Darrell 'Pete' Brewster and Joe Thomas are incredibly deserving of becoming Browns Legends, and we commend them for their commitment to the team on the field and community off of it. While each Legends ceremony is special, this year is definitely memorable for our family because of how much time we have spent with Joe and personally seeing his dedication to excellence in all areas. We know how much Joe means to our fans, and we also look forward to celebrating with him, Annie and their family in Canton soon."
Thomas is considered one of the best offensive linemen in NFL history after his illustrious 11-year career in Cleveland that featured 10 Pro Bowls and six First Team All-Pro seasons. Thomas never missed a snap once his career began after the Browns drafted him third overall in 2007. His streak of 10,363 consecutive snaps is believed to be the longest in league history and is the longest since the NFL began recording snap counts in 1999. His streak number is also enshrined in the Browns' Ring of Honor at FirstEnergy Stadium.
In addition to his personal achievements, Thomas was a constant source of positivity for the Browns as they endured one of their toughest periods in franchise history. The Browns went 48-128 in Thomas' career, but the tribulations of the franchise were never apparent in his on-field and off-field actions. He spoke with optimism about the team's future and believed successful football was just around the corner in Cleveland.
Thomas also established a heavy presence in the community as someone who constantly gave back in charitable ways, leading him to be nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award three times in his career. Thomas was bestowed the honor in 2010, 2012 and 2016 and remains the only Browns player to receive the award in multiple seasons.
"It feels amazing," Thomas said. "The pride that I have as a former Cleveland Brown and Browns alumni is unlimited, and now being able to be in the most exclusive club among Browns alumni is incredibly special to me.
Just being able to come back and see the greatest fanbase in football, being in front of them and having a warm reception in spite of the fact that, in the years I played here, weren't really successful, it feels like there's a connection that's deeper than 'player-fan,'" Thomas said. "It feels like a familial bond. It's without condition. It's 'we love you, period.'"
Brewster, a two-time Pro Bowler, played at both defensive end and tight end in his Browns career, which spanned from 1952-1958. A second-round draft pick in 1952, he was one of legendary QB Otto Graham's favorite targets and had 210 career receptions for 3,758 yards and 21 touchdowns. Brewster earned his Pro Bowl honors in 1955 and 1956 and won NFL Championships with the Browns in 1954 and 1955.
Brewster, who resided in Missouri after his retirement from football, passed away in January 2020 at the age of 89.
"Our family is ecstatic that our father has been chosen to receive the incredible honor of being inducted into the Cleveland Browns Legends," said Debbie Wildeisen, Brewster's daughter. "Our hearts are full! We are both humbled and proud that he is being recognized for his contributions to the team that was so instrumental to his professional career and close to his heart."
The Cleveland Browns organization honors the men who have contributed to the success of the Browns organization. The Legends Program started in 2001 with the automatic induction of the Browns' then Pro Football Hall of Famers along with the initial class of five other inductees. An eight-person selection panel chooses the players to be honored. The team has named two Legends per season since 2010 with the exception of 2019, when it did not name any and instead honored Otto Graham with a statue outside of FirstEnergy Stadium and inducted Clay Matthews into the Ring of Honor.