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Press Conference

Joe Thomas retirement press conference

Jimmy Haslam opening statement:

"Good afternoon, and thanks a lot for coming. Today is obviously a sad and yet a happy day for the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Browns as we announce the official retirement of Joe Thomas. (Head coach) Hue (Jackson) is sitting there looking at me like, 'What in the world could be happy about this?' (laughter) That is a fair statement.

"Today, it is important to being to celebrate what Joe Thomas accomplished in his career. I feel very strongly that as recognized as he was during his career, people will really begin to appreciate what he accomplished in his 10-plus years with the Cleveland Browns, both on and off the field. It really is truly remarkable. Most everybody knows the story. Joe was the No. 3 pick in the 2007 [NFL] Draft and went on to play 167 consecutive games, 10,363 [consecutive] snaps. If you just think about that of 10-plus years without not only missing a game but without missing a snap, it is a phenomenal record. Not only did Joe play a lot and play frequently, he played exceptionally well. Listen to this one statistic: He was selected to 10 straight Pro Bowls. In the history of the NFL, only five other people have accomplished that and none of them was a lineman – none of them was a lineman. The Cleveland Browns have had two members of its football team make nine Pro Bowls. They are both in the Hall of Fame: (Pro Football Hall of Famers and Browns alumni) Jim Brown and Lou Groza. That shows you the kind of stature that Joe has achieved. That is why today is really a day that we begin celebrating Joe Thomas' career. We will celebrate it again this year at one of our games when the number '10,363' is inducted into our Ring of Honor. Five years from now, all of us in this room will make the trek down to Canton where I feel very, very certain that Joe will be inducted as a first-ballot Hall of Famer into a positon he richly deserves, along with the other greats of the game. (Crowd applause)

"As good as Joe has been on the field, he has been equally good off the field. He is a three-time nominee for the Walter Payton (Man of the Year) Award. He was a finalist in 2012. He has been the Browns nominee for Salute to Service. He and Annie (Thomas) have been active in numerous good causes in the city of Cleveland. Most of all, Joe has represented the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Browns and his family as a true pro. You never read anything bad about Joe Thomas. You never hear anything bad about Joe Thomas. He literally came to work every day and did his job, he went home every night and then came back and did it again for 10-plus years. Annie, we want to thank you for all the support you put behind Joe in helping him be the man that he is today and for toughing it out for lots of long games and for hanging in there with us and your three children.

"Joe, legend has it that 11 years ago when you were drafted, you were fishing out on the lake with your dad. There is a picture of you getting the cell call that you were drafted by the Browns and holding the fish. Knowing you, you probably still have the fishing rod, is that right? (laughter) 'Absolutely', he said. However, as a small token of our appreciation and there will be many more, we would like to and (General Manager) John Dorsey and Hue Jackson would like to present you – we would like to go full circle and give you another fishing rod. I understand you are going back to Wisconsin in a week and a half that you can use to fish. It is an appropriately embroidered fishing vest with the No. 73 on it. (Dorsey and Jackson present gifts to Thomas)

"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage one of the all-time greats of the NFL, a sure-fire future Hall of Famer, Joe Thomas."

(Crowd applause)


The future Hall of Famer spoke with media at the Browns practice facility.


OL Joe Thomas speech:

"Thanks, Jimmy. You are tall, but I am a little taller here. It is obviously a little bit of an emotional day for me. I wanted to start out by saying thank you to everyone for attending today's press conference. It is always humbling when you get honored in the way that I am being honored today. When you see all of these busy people taking time out of their day to come and watch, it is kind of like the pep rally that you had in high school where you are excited about it because you get to miss that pop quiz in math class, but other than that, you just hope that you get out in time to catch the buses. So do not worry, I will get you guys out in time to catch your buses this afternoon (laughter).

"Most of all, I just wanted to say that I am grateful for everyone for coming today and to all the folks who are out here and who would had a big hand in me being able to stand on this stage today and be proud of the things that I have done in my 11-year career. I hope I am able to control my tears, but in case, I don't, I wanted to make sure everyone understands that this is a day for me to celebrate and also to give thanks. Hopefully, everyone enjoys the day as much as I know I am. 

"This offseason, there were a lot of people that reached out to me when they heard I was considering retirement. They had an opportunity to talk to me and give their input. One of the guys who actually talked to me was (former Browns offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan. He put together a 32-point slide presentation in a PowerPoint telling me why I needed to come back; unfortunately, that did not work (laughter). (Former Browns General Manager) Ray Farmer tried to text me but it was during a game, and unfortunately, he was suspended for that (laughter). (Former Browns Head Coach) Eric Mangini wanted to reach out to me because I had a couple years with him and he thought it was important to hear a few things from him, but unfortunately, he said I was going to have to ride eight hours with him on a bus to Connecticut if I wanted to hear all about it so I turned that down (laughter). (Former Browns QB) Brandon Weeden still has my phone number, somehow after all these years. He tried to call me but he ended up still being stuck under that giant American flag so he did not get any reception (laughter). (Former Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Sashi (Brown) tried to trade some information with me about my retirement, but unfortunately, it did not get in in time (laughter). (Former Browns QB) Johnny (Manziel) tried to call me from the club but his money phone apparently did not have very good service (laughter). In the end, we all know that the reason I retired was because of (former Browns QB) Robert Griffin III; it was definitely his fault (laughter).

"Seriously though, I know that I joke a little bit and try to have fun with things. I have had a lot of outstanding memories in my 11 years in Cleveland. One memory, if you will please allow me to stroll down memory lane a little bit – it is something I will never forget – after the biggest road comeback in NFL history, dancing in the locker room with myself and our quarterback at the time (former Browns QB) Brian Hoyer. Me being able to prove to everyone, once and for all, that myself, the Vanilla Volcano, was a better dancer than Brian Hoyer. That was a big moment in my career. One moment I will never forget is being in Baltimore on the road. I was a young player at the time. (Former Browns K) Phil Dawson kicks a field goal to try to tie it to go into overtime. It looked like it had bounced off the goal post and bounced out. Everyone went into the locker room. We thought the game was over. We thought we lost. The refs actually reviewed it. They saw that the ball actually hit something called a stanchion, which is something that I really did not even know what it was until that moment. They brought everyone back on the field. We ended up going into overtime and winning the game. That is a moment that will be burned in my memory forever. I think it might actually be the only time that I won in Baltimore during my career. Of course, another moment I will never forget is the (former Browns Head Coach) Rob Chudzinski era. Both of those days were outstanding (laughter). Of course, a lot of great team records when I was here. (Former Browns RB) Jerome Harrison set the rushing record against Kansas City. That was one of the most fun games that I have ever been able to play in. I think we had almost 300 yards rushing and a couple kick return touchdowns by (former Browns WR/KR) Josh Cribbs. Just the feeling to go out there, play after play, and impose your will on a defense and to be able to continue to run the ball the way we wanted, that was a lot of fun. That was something that I will never forget. Of course, (former Browns QB) Josh McCown set a passing record for the Browns. (WR) Josh Gordon set a receiving record for yards receiving in a season, and he did that in only [14] games. I am proud to be a part of that. In 2009, we won four games in a row at the end of the season after starting 1-11, sort of a small milestone for us, but I think it was a team record at the time and it was really fun to see that team come together towards the end of that season and put together that winning streak. Of course, something I will tell to maybe my kids some day is when I got to 10,000 straight snaps and (Cavaliers F) LeBron James tweeted at me. Of course, when I retired, he tweeted at me again. I would like to tweet back at him some day. Hopefully, that is not for a long time because I still love watching him play.

"Another highlight was during training camp. We always have swimming races in the pool. I was able to dominate my competition so much this season that they renamed the pool after me. It is now the Joe Thomas Natatorium (laughter, including audible laugh from Thomas' son). My son liked that one (laughter). In 2007, we went 4-0 in the preseason and were declared 'Preseason World Champions.' That is going to be on my grave (laughter). The reality is I just felt that for me the time was right to retire because I knew that Hue was going to make the rest of the team jump in the lake with him this year, and I didn't think I would be able to handle it. I am not as tough as I used to be (laughter).

"It is appropriate that after 11 great seasons that I thank a lot of people. Please, bear with me; there are a lot of people that deserve thanking, and I want to make sure that I cover most of them.

"First and foremost, somebody that I really want to thank because I know for sure my career would not be the same without her is obviously my amazing wife, Annie. She has been my rock since day one, and I can never repay her for those long games with her fingernails in her mouth, worried not exactly if I do my job but just hoping that I did not get hurt. I appreciate that so much. Of course, my children, our three kids are fantastic. Being able to come home after a tough day at work or a tough game, as we have had a few of those, was so much better when you are able to see their faces and see them instantly light up. They make your really put everything into perspective. I have got to thank my parents, Eric and Sally. The way that they raised me, the core principles that they instilled in me, those are still what I carry with me to this day. Other family, my friends; three friends that I really want to mention on this day who are really important to me Luke Homan, Steve Johnson and Ben Strickland. They are three guys that I grew up with when I was a kid. One of them sadly is not with us anymore, but I know that he is listening to this somewhere in heaven. I think it is important that I mention their names because up until that point in my life, before I met those kids, I really was not somebody that was too big into sports. Once I met them and started playing basketball, football, track and baseball with them, they showed me a love of sports. They instilled in me what it means to have passion and focus on a single goal on the athletic field. They were as integral a part of my career as anybody that I have met since then. Without meeting them in grade school, I am sure I would be stuck being an intern with (Browns Vice President of Football Operations) Simon Gelan. Lord knows, I wouldn't wish that on anybody (laughter). 

"Of course, something that recently happened to me and that I am really excited about because I think I have gotten everybody in the city some days off is the City of Cleveland has decided to name 7-3-2018 as a global holiday in my honor. That is very awesome, and I am very excited about it because now I get to celebrate two of the greatest days in history back-to-back – one being July 4th and the other one of course being another reason to party. 

"I have to thank my college coaches. Of course, the great Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin, Bret Bielema, Paul Chryst; those are all guys that took an 18-year old freshman and a boy who really didn't know anything about the world or about hard work and turned me into the man that became the man ready to play in the NFL, and start to make the Pro Bowl my rookie season. I have had a lot of great offensive line coaches in my career that had a huge impact and a tremendous impact on not only the person that I am, but also the player that I was on the field: Jim Hubert, Bob Palcic, Steve Marshall, Mike Sullivan, George Warhop, Andy Moeller, the World War I general, George DeLeone, Hal Hunter, Mark Hutson, Bob Wylie.

Not the Bob Wylie from What About Bob?, of course. That is probably the one that you know, but the real Bob Wylie right here. He is living and in person back here. Thank you to you guys.

"My six head coaches: of course Hue Jackson, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski and Mike Pettine. Now, each one of those coaches have given me something on the field and in life that I will definitely take with me for the rest of my life. One thing that I learned from those coaches that I will never forget and it is something that I teach young kids about when I get the opportunity to speak to high school kids is that there are three things in life and in football that if you can master and remember from time to time, you will be able to be successful. That is be on time, pay attention and work hard. If you can do those three things in life or on the football field, you have an opportunity to have great success. I thank you guys for all of those great lessons that I learned on the football field. [Thanks to] The Haslams, the Lerners and my agent Peter Schaffer. [Thanks to] my GMs: Phil Savage, George Kokinis, Tom Heckert, Joe Banner, Ray Farmer, Sashi Brown, John Dorsey and all of the presidents and czars and many people that used to walk around the building carrying briefcases that nobody knew what was inside of them. You guys are going to help make my book a New York Times Bestseller so I thank you guys (laughter). 

"Of course, I need to thank (Vice President of Community Relations) Jenner (Tekancic), (Vice President, Cleveland Browns Foundation) Renee (Harvey), (Community Relations Manager) Brittany (Young) and everybody in the Browns Community Relations Department. You guys were awesome. You made a player who had a desire to give back to his community able to do those things in a smooth, easy and fulfilling manner. I don't know if I will ever be able to meet anybody as wonderful as you guys and the things that you do for this city.

"Of course, the public relations staff that had more of a headache on their hands the longer my career went on. (Senior Vice President of Communications) Peter John-Baptise, (Senior Manager of Communications) Dan Murphy and (Senior Manager of Communications) Rob 'McDermott' – I know your name is McBurnett, but I figured I would call you 'McDermott' since I have been calling you that for six years. You guys definitely deserve a raise for having to put up with me. I have to thank 'Billy Vegas' (former Browns QB Johnny Manziel). He helped turn my podcast, the ThomaHawk Show, into the No. 1 show on iTunes. Thanks for remembering all of those terrible times that you had in Cleveland.

"(Head Equipment Manager) Brad Melland, (Assistant Equipment Manager) Jeff Inderhees, (Assistant Equipment Manager) Jimmy Mac (McLaughlin) and everyone in the equipment room, you guys somehow were able to find pants baggy enough for me. I will leave you with this – ninjas wear baggy pants, and they are the most nimble and quick creatures on the face of the earth. Any football players out there, I definitely see a couple, you definitely want to wear baggy pants. Do not buy into the hype with the tight pants. 

"Somebody else that I need to thank that I am sure nobody thought of was (former Browns OL) Vinston Painter. He is a guy that didn't play a lot here in Cleveland, but he tried to sub me out in the middle of my (snap) streak. I wouldn't have the 10,363 consecutive snaps if he would not have had listened to me when I cussed him out on the field and sent him out to the sidelines to continue my streak (laughter).

"Of course, there were a lot of amazing teammates that I have had over my career. Just to name a few that I really want to name because I think they really deserve it: Alex Mack, Jason Pinkston, Mitchell Schwartz, John Greco, Hank Fraley, Eric Steinbach and Joel Bitonio. Those are guys that grinded with me on a daily basis. They were in the trenches with me. They went through the tough times in training camp in August when it is 95 degrees. They were by my side in the middle of December in snowstorms. In the hard times when you're losing and in the great times when you're winning, those are your buddies. Those will be my friends until the day that I die.

"Of course, I have to also thank all of my teammates from Pee Wee through high school through college and into the pros. The great strength staffs that I was able to work with. Of course, my lifting partner (Strength and Conditioning Coordinator) Evan Marcus back there, he is a guy that I have really come to know and enjoy in my last few years in the NFL. [Thanks to] (Video Director) Rob Pavlas, Chad Bogard, and the video crews that I have had. Of course, I still don't know how to run a Microsoft Surface after 11 years, but somehow I was able to survive. I really just want to thank you so much for helping me, even though I am sort of technologically illiterate. Of course, the staff of The Joe Thomas Hour, who can say that wasn't the best two minutes of their life? (Head Athletic Trainer) Joe Sheehan and the medical staff deserve a big thank you. You guys were the backbone of me being able to reach 10,363 consecutive snaps. All while being able to put together a streak of almost zero consecutive snaps in practice in the last three or four years (laughter).

"Of course, I have got to say thank you and a big shout out to the beat writers, the guys that follow the team on a daily basis: Mary Kay (Cabot), Tony (Grossi), Jeff (Schudel), Pat (McManamon), Scott (Petrak), Tom (Withers), Nate (Ulrich), Steve (Doerschuk), (Andrew) Gribble, Fred (Greetham), Daryl (Ruiter), Jim (Donovan) and Doug (Dieken). Our locker room conversations were often the highlight of my day towards the end of my career. I thank you so much for always covering myself and my team and my career in a fair and honest manner.

"One thing I do need to say to Jeff Schudel, where is he? He is not here. Well, he must be at Mission BBQ because I got a memo that said he had a little bit of barbecue sauce on his face still (laughter).

"I have to say thank you to all of the staff with the Browns that I haven't mentioned yet. Of course, the cafeteria workers. I still like to eat, even today. I have lost a few pounds, but I still get a smile on my face every time that I walk into that fantastic cafeteria. (Head Groundskeeper) Chris Powell and the grounds crew, (Director of Security) John Frain, Ken Wendell and the security guys. (Director of Player Engagement) Ron Brewer, Aaron Shea in player engagement. Simon (Gelan), the one-man army and (football operations) his crew. I do not think Simon was able to be here today because he was trying to win the Super Bowl today (laughter). Hopefully, we can relay the message of thanks. [Thanks to] the marketing staff, the sales team and then everyone that does everything behind the scenes to put the Cleveland Browns out there on Sundays that don't get the recognition that they definitely deserve. 

"Lastly, it is important that I mention thanks to all of the fans. You guys were the ones that took me in as one of your own. The grit, passion, toughness and determination that you display on a daily basis is an inspiration for myself and for all of my teammates and all of the people that wear 'Cleveland' across their chest. You guys taught me what it means to be a Clevelander. Playing in front of the greatest fans in the NFL is easily the greatest honor that I have had in my 11-year career. I hope I was able to make you guys proud in the way that I was always proud when I told people boldly that I am a Cleveland Brown. The excitement I had for my team and my city never wavered, no matter what the circumstances. It is with all of this, that I must say goodbye. (Applause)

"Doing good; I am almost there (laughter). Goodbye not because I am retiring but because I am merely changing jobs – from being your left tackle to being the No. 1 fan of the Cleveland Browns. Thank you." 


Statement from ESPN's Pat McManamon:

McManamon:"Peter was supposed to make this announcement so he kind of put me on the spot, but I will say it anyway. On behalf of the Pro Football Writers Association locally and all of us who are here, we appreciate your kind words. We give a Player of the Year Award as you know, and from this day forward, that award will be called the 'Joe Thomas Award'."

 Thomas:"Thank you guys, that means a lot."

McManamon:"It is a way to recognize what you have achieved, and to carry it forward. We talked about that or a gift, and none of us really wanted to spend the money."

Thomas:"Thanks guys."

Q&A session:

On what is next in his career:

"Good question. What's next? I'm not sure. There are a few opportunities that I am exploring right now. I am keeping all of my doors open. Going to look for what is the right fit for me and my family. Part of the things that I am excited about with this retirement – obviously, I'm really sad that I am done playing football – I am really excited about spending more time with my family. Whatever happens in the next phase of my life, I am really looking forward to finding something that will fit with what I hope to expect with my family life."

On the difficulty preparing for games prior to the triceps injury in 2017 and if he may have still retired following this season if it did not occur, given his comments during his ThomaHawk Podcast:

"Part of the thought process that went into the decision to retire was just reflecting on where I was during the season last year. As the games got closer to the game that I hurt my triceps, I was feeling like I was in tough shape physically, my knee specifically. I was concerned that I was not going to make it through the season. Not only that but I was concerned even if I was able to make it, that my performance would drop significantly because of what I had to go through to try to get knee ready to go on Sunday. Sometimes it wasn't really feeling all that ready. Definitely there was difficulty as my career went on, getting that body, specifically my knee, ready for Sundays."

On his envisioned role with the Browns organization:

"I'm not sure yet. I mentioned my love and passion for this organization so hopefully, there is a future with the team. I know that hopefully Jimmy (Haslam), Dee (Haslam) and I will be able to talk about that a little bit this offseason and try to figure something out. That is a discussion that is going to happen down the road." 

On if he will make Cleveland his year-round home:

"We love it here in Cleveland. The plan right now is not to live here year-round. My parents, my wife's parents, all of our family are in Wisconsin. As you can see, my kids are a handful so we need as many babysitters as possible (laughter). Like I said, I am looking to take just kind of a year to see where everything is at. Talking to some other players that have retired, talking with NFLPA and thinking about that process, it takes guys about a year usually they say to sort of figure out where their life is and where their next passion is going to be. I am ready to take a little bit of time to figure that out."* *

On what he will miss most about playing football:

"That is an easy one. The thing I will miss most is right behind me in the locker room being with all of those guys. I think the environment that you have in the locker room, the teasing of each other, the fun, the daily intellectual conversations, the arguments – those are all things that I don't think you can find anywhere else. The brotherhood that you get in the locker room is unique to football as a game and sports as a whole, but it is something that is not created anywhere else. That being so much a part of my life for so long is easily the thing that I will miss the most. It will be the hardest to replicate in retirement."

On stating his goal of being a Pro Football Hall of Fame player when he was drafted and his confidence in that happening:

"I am not sure if I was ready to write myself into the Hall of Fame, but I definitely knew that it was my goal. That was what I was going to focus on from Day 1. Now that was the big goal. Obviously, you are not going to make the Hall of Fame in one year, but I think it was important for me to come into my career as a rookie to keep my eyes up and my mouth shut like any good rookie but also keep the sights high. I wanted to make sure that my goals were as high as they possibly could be so that if for some reason they fell I little bit short, at least I could always say that I shot for the best; I tried to be the greatest; I gave it my all; I did everything that I possibly could; and I never sold myself short."

On the ThomaHawk Podcast:

"It is very popular. No. 1 on iTunes in case you were wondering (laughter)."

On the 2018 NFL Draft:

"The Browns are going to get some awesome football players. Those are my thoughts. It will be interesting. We have an outstanding General Manager in John Dorsey. I am excited to watch from now until the draft to see what moves he makes and see what players he decides to select. Clearly, we are in an outstanding position where at No. 1 and No. 4, no matter what happens, we are going to get some really good football players added to this team."

On describing his perfect post-football career:

"*(Laughter) *Do they have any jobs where you just show up and you get paid a lot of money? I want that one. Good question. I am not sure. I definitely want to stay around the game. I think the longer you play football, the more it becomes part of who you are. The passion somehow gets greater. If you would have told me as a rookie that I would love football and the game and playing and everything about it now even more than when I was in high school or even in middle school, I probably would have said you were lying. It really becomes who you are. It becomes so much a part of your life. I think that is why so many guys struggle with the transition from player to post-career. I do not know. Maybe a little bit of coaching. I respect the heck out of these coaches because there is no way I could spend the amount of time that they do as a coach. I would definitely want to stay around the game, coaching players individually. Maybe do some broadcast work. Do a few things with the team here. I want to be, even though I will not be on the field, somebody who can be a positive representation for the Cleveland Browns and help them in any way I can without being on the field. I do not know what that position is going to look like yet but hopefully, we can do something and then I can still be a part of the game and be a part of this team."

On clarifying that he wants to be like former Browns OL Doug Dieken and his role with the team:

"(Laughter) *I do not think Doug is here today but I definitely want to be Doug Dieken. If you could map out the perfect life, it would be Doug Dieken's and the perfect mustache (laughter).*"

On becoming more outspoken with the media as his career advanced and how it relates to his interest in future media work:

"I got good advice when I was a rookie to keep your mouth shut and your eyes open so that is what I did. Early on in my career, I had Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel. They came from (Patriots Head Coach) Bill Belichick and (former Giants Head Coach) Bill Parcells. We spent a lot of time in those meeting rooms talking about how not to talk to you guys. I did not want to get in trouble for talking too much to the media. As your career wears on and you start to feel more comfortable in front of a microphone in front of a camera, you start to see there is a large, positive opportunity there for you to kind of get your message out here to the fans to be able to talk directly to the fans through the media. I just started embracing that and opening up a little more and showing my personality a little bit more. I think a big part of that was doing those silly shows with the Browns, some of the Joe Thomas hours, some of the off-the-field type interviews that I did with the Browns TV and radio stuff. I enjoyed it and I think the feedback was OK at least. I guess I kept going a little bit. We will see. I do not know if that is going to parlay into a broadcast gig or not, but I guess we will find out."

On who will introduce him in Canton when inducted into the Hall of Fame:

"I honestly have not thought about that yet. Hopefully in five years, I will be able to think about that a little more."

On if any acknowledgement or tribute after declaring retirement stood out to him:

"As a linemen, you always have this perception of yourself as a mushroom. You are the guy, in the corner, who they keep in the dark room and they throw crap on him and they expect good things to happen (laughter). You just do not think of yourself as anybody that important. Over the last week to hear all of these, actually important, people like LeBron (James) and other people really important, send congratulations and talk about what you have meant to them. I got so many messages on Twitter and through text messages and emails from people that I have played with, people who are in the NFL now who were maybe in high school or middle school when I started playing and they were talking about how they looked up to me, the way I played and the way I carried myself. That meant a lot to me, guys that are Pro Bowl tackles that I think are the next Hall of Fame offensive linemen in the game right now sending me messages and calling me, telling me what I meant to their career. Those were things that you never think about. To read those things, I can tell you, I went through a lot of boxes of Kleenexes over the last week."

On who had the biggest impact on his career:

"I will give you two people: (Former Browns offensive line coach 2009-13) George Warhop had a big impact on my career as a player. He had me for [five] years as a player. He is an outstanding offensive line coach. He is unrelenting. He teaches really exceptional technique. He is a tough but fair coach. I think I had him from my third year through like my [seventh] year. I had him for the longest stretch in my career. I definitely give him a lot of credit for helping me see the game the way I do and turning me into the offensive linemen I stepped off the field as last year. I felt like I was a decent player before he showed up and made a couple Pro Bowls, but he helped me take my game to the next level. He showed me where I was, was not good enough because the standard was even better. I give him a lot of credit. (Former Browns OL and Falcons C) Alex Mack, a long time teammate and great friend. He was younger than me, but just watching him practice and watching him prepare and just the friendships and the good times that we had, he was a guy who had another huge impact on my career."

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