Joe Thomas wants to keep playing, but his body just can't do it anymore.
Thomas, the Browns' Pro Bowl left tackle, announced his retirement Wednesday and further outlined that decision on his podcast, The ThomaHawk Show, saying more than a decade of playing in the NFL has taken a toll on his body greater than he's ever publicly disclosed.
"It's a bittersweet day for me," Thomas said on the podcast. "I've had 11 amazing seasons here in Cleveland and to know when it's time to call it quits and put a cherry on the career is always tough … There's a point in your career that you get to that crossroads and you say, 'I just can't do it anymore' … my mind is good, but my body is not willing."
Thomas, who played a record 10,363 consecutive snaps before tearing his triceps last season, cited a litany of injuries — "countless ligament tears, muscle tears, arthritis in just about every bone in my body" — and four knee surgeries since college. "You just get to that point," he said, "where you can't do it anymore."
Joe Thomas announces his retirement. Take a look back at the 11 seasons he spent with the Browns.
Thomas said issues with his knees are the main reason he's calling it a career and were a significant reason why he was largely unable to practice in recent years, using the week to rest, recover and prepare himself for Sundays.
"For the last really two to three years of my career, it's been almost impossible for me to practice because even a 30- or 40-minute practice where I would take 10 or 15 plays my knee would swell up so bad and my back would get so tight that I couldn't function for like two or three days," he said.
"I had several times where my back would line up and I wouldn't be able to tie my own shoe for like three or four weeks … It becomes like a snowball that's rolling downhill. All these injuries, they add up and they lead to these other problems throughout your body. That's only tenable for so long."
Thomas, the only player in Browns history named to 10 Pro Bowls, was the longest-tenured member of Cleveland's youth-laden roster and leaves behind an unmatched legacy both on and off the field.