Joe Thomas has moved up a rung on the ladder to immortality in Canton.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Tuesday that Thomas, the 10-time Pro Bowler and legendary offensive tackle who spent 11 seasons in Cleveland, is one of 28 modern-era semifinalists for the 2023 ballot, joining OL Jahri Evans, LB Dwight Freeney, LB James Harrison, and DB Darrelle Revis as players in their first year of HOF eligibility.
Thomas, of course, is considered to be a lock for enshrinement in his first year on the ballot. Few offensive linemen have had a career as sparkling as Thomas, whose career achievements included playing 10,363 consecutive snaps, believed to be the longest by any player in NFL history. The streak spanned his entire career, starting from when he was drafted third overall to 2007 to his final snap 167 games later in 2017.
The next steps for Thomas' induction include another cut down to 15 finalists before the final voting process begins. Then, the Hall of Fame's 49-person Selection Committee will select the Class of 2023 in advance of Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz. The class will be announced live on the "NFL Honors" telecast scheduled to air at 9 p.m. ET Feb. 9. While there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the Bylaws for the Selection Committee provide that between four and nine new members will be selected.
The HOF marked Aug. 5 as the anticipated date of enshrinement for the class.
The Browns previously honored Thomas' career this season by inducting him into their Legends program at halftime in Week 2.