Joe Thomas' eight Pro Bowl appearances in eight years caught the attention of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Representatives from the NFL made the trip to Berea to collect Thomas' jersey from the 2015 Pro Bowl and hung it inside the walls of football's ultimate archive. Thomas is the only offensive lineman in NFL history to make eight consecutive Pro Bowls to begin his career.
"I think any player that ever steps on a football field ends up dreaming about maybe someday having a piece of themselves in the Hall of Fame," Thomas said. "It's still kind of hard to believe. It's a pinch-me moment."
Former Browns running backs Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack, who were in Canton for a panel discussion in accordance with Black History Month, helped assemble the display.
Pro Football Hall of Fame representative Jason Aikens deals with NFL records every day, and even he was taken aback by Thomas' accomplishment.
"When you think of all the great offensive linemen in NFL history, Anthony Munoz, Bruce Matthews – it's pretty amazing Thomas was the first to do that," Aikens said.
Thomas' favorite Pro Bowl moment happened to be the first year he played in it. When he trotted out onto the field with butterflies in his stomach for the 2008 Pro Bowl, Thomas looked to his right and saw none other than Peyton Manning standing next to him.
"It's a moment I'll never forget for the rest of my life," Thomas said. "Peyton Manning is someone I idolized growing up. To be standing in the huddle with him is something I'll tell my grandkids someday."
Thomas also remembers how much has changed at the NFL's annual all-star game. When he was a rookie, Thomas felt like he should buy the veterans dinner and drinks by the pool.
"The younger guys tease me with how old and frail I am," Thomas said with a big laugh.
It promises not to be the last time Thomas hears from Canton.