To continue our celebration of the franchise's 75th anniversary, we're launching "Browns Countdown: Top 75 Moments" presented by Bridgestone. Over the next month, through videos, articles and more, we'll be highlighting the top 75 moments in Browns history. Our video tributes, which will be available at ClevelandBrowns.com, the Browns' mobile app and the Browns' official YouTube Channel, will dive deep into the top 20 while our articles will put the spotlight on a number of different moments that are sprinkled throughout the top 75.
We're moving down to No. 42, which highlights the likely unbreakable record set by legendary offensive tackle Joe Thomas.
When Joe Thomas completed his 10,000th consecutive snap on Sept. 17, 2017, at M&T Bank Stadium, the moment — like most of his work as an offensive tackle across 11 seasons with the Browns — went by with minimal attention.
The game didn't stop for any sort of ceremony. Thomas had no time to remove his helmet and give some sort of wave to the crowd, which was full of Baltimore Ravens fans who wouldn't have replicated the roars Thomas would've heard had he been in Cleveland, anyways.
Instead, the 10,000th snap was made for a 9-yard carry from Isaiah Crowell. Then, Thomas returned to the huddle and prepared for snap No. 10,001.
"Having it in Cleveland I think would have been cool probably for the fans, but I really am happy to just act like it wasn't even there," Thomas said the week after the game. "For me, it would've been difficult. I have a hard time being in the spotlight when the attention is on me like that."
Thomas never had much interest in receiving any spotlight while he built one of the most illustrious careers of any offensive lineman in NFL history. With 10 Pro Bowls and six All-Pro nominations, he's a shoe-in candidate for Hall of Fame status when he becomes eligible in 2023, and when he's enshrined, he'll have an achievement no other player will likely ever match again: 11 seasons, 166 games and zero snaps missed until he suffered an injury later in the 2017 season, which would ultimately be his last.
Those accolades were compiled after Thomas continued to — literally — put his head down and grind through every second on the field. His loyalty with Cleveland never changed while he played for six different head coaches, blocked for 22 quarterbacks and 69 ball carriers and became teammates with 403 other players (15 of which made the Pro Bowl).
And through it all, Thomas never sought recognition or praise.
He just wanted to have another chance to do his job again, snap by snap.
"I feel like a guy who's just always wanted to be there for my teammates, and I blink my eyes and 10k snaps has gone by," Thomas tweeted after surpassing the 10K mark. "I've just always wanted to get up and play the next play...do my job. Do my part to help my team. I've never felt like a star."
But for one snap on that Sunday afternoon in Baltimore, Thomas reached a mark that cemented himself as one of the biggest stars in NFL history. No immediate celebrations were in order for him — just the same routine he's followed that's made him one of Cleveland's all-time greatest sports figures.
He wouldn't have wanted to have it any other way.
"I think as linemen, we're happy to not be the center of attention," he said. "Our careers are usually, when you're the center of attention, in the spotlight, it's usually a bad thing. So it's been a difficult week having that spotlight on me and I'm happy to move beyond that and hopefully sneak into the shadows for the rest of the season."
Earlier this year, the Browns commissioned a panel of historians, alumni and journalists to rank the top 75 moments in Browns history. The group met multiple times to discuss the moments and each member submitted their own final rankings, which were averaged against each other to create the ultimate list.
Building the Top 75 from the bottom up
42. Joe Thomas reaches 10,000 consecutive snaps on Sept. 17, 2017, against the Baltimore Ravens. He amassed 10,363 before retiring after the 2017 season.
43. In what would ultimately be his final regular season game of his career, Jim Brown breaks Lenny Moore's NFL record (20) for most touchdowns in a single season on Dec. 19, 1965.
45. Kevin Stefanski named NFL Coach of the Year as first-year head coach, becoming the second coach in franchise history to receive the honor.
46. Browns defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 51-0 in the 1989 season opener on Sept. 10 the most lopsided result in the 79-game series between the teams at that time.
48. Browns hire Romeo Crennel, their first African-American coach, in 2005.
49. Browns orchestrate the greatest road comeback (25 points) in NFL history in a 29-28 victory against the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 5, 2014
50. Brian Sipe breaks the Cleveland Browns franchise passing record held previously by Otto Graham (401) by throwing for 444 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-28 win over the Baltimore Colts on Oct. 25, 1981.
52. Baker Mayfield breaks NFL rookie record for most passing touchdowns in as single season (27) on Dec. 30, 2018
53\. Jerome Harrison breaks Jim Brown’s single game franchise rushing record on Dec. 20, 2009 with 286 yards rushing in a 41-34 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. In the same game Josh Cribbs becomes the second player in NFL history to have two 100-yard kickoff returns in the same game.
54. Browns defeat Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-22, on Jan. 3, 2021, to end NFL's longest playoff drought of 18 years.
55. Browns avenge their first championship game loss to the Los Angeles Rams in 1951 by crushing the Rams in a rematch 37-7 on Oct. 7, 1952.
56. Cleveland Browns draft Joe Thomas on April 28, 2007.
57. Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham is elbowed in the face by a Detroit Lions defender in the first half, and after receiving 15 stitches and a lucite face mask, he comes back in the second half to defeat the Lions, 23-21, on Nov. 15, 1953. Graham's injury helped kickstart the widespread use of facemasks in the NFL.
59. In the first meeting of Jim Brown vs. Johnny Unitas, the Cleveland Browns prevail in a 38-31 shootout against the Baltimore Colts on Nov. 1, 1959. The game also pits Weeb Ewbank against his mentor Paul Brown. Brown rushed for 178 yards and scored five touchdowns while Unitas threw for 397 yards in defeat.
60. Browns clinch a wildcard playoff berth on Dec. 18, 1988, behind backup quarterback Don Strock, who threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-23 victory over the Houston Oilers
61. Blanton Collier replaces Paul Brown as head coach. Collier coached the Browns when they won the 1964 championship.
62. Paul Brown debuts first radio helmet 1956 with QB George Ratterman.
63. Josh Gordon becomes first wide receiver in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard games on Dec. 1, 2013.
64\. Nick Chubb breaks the Browns franchise record for longest run by scoring a 92-yard touchdown Nov. 11, 2018, in a 28-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The previous record was held by Bobby Mitchell.
65. Phil Dawson retires from the NFL as a Cleveland Brown. Dawson signed with the Browns in 1999 and kicked for the Browns for 14 years.
67. Bobby Mitchell rushes for 232 yards on 14 carries for an incredible 16.6-yard average in a Cleveland Browns 31-17 win against the Washington Redskins on Nov. 15, 1959.
68. Browns' fans create numerous music ballads that are played on Cleveland radio to celebrate the teams resurgence in the late 1980s. Songs include "Oh Bernie Bernie," "Super Bowl Browns" and "Born and Raised on the Browns."
69. Browns defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 21-20, on Dec. 8, 2002 with a 50-yard Hail Mary from Tim Couch to Quincy Morgan with no time left. Couch becomes the only quarterback to have two game-winning passes of 50 yards or more with no time left on the clock.
72. Browns clinch an Eastern Conference title by crushing the New York Giants 52-20 on Dec. 12, 1964.
73. Browns move into first place of the AFC Central Division after defeating the Houston Oilers on Dec. 15, 1985. The Browns would go on to win the AFC Central for the first time since 1980
74. Jeff Garcia and Andre Davis combine to tie the NFL record for the longest pass in NFL history of 99 yards in a Cleveland Browns 34-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 17, 2004.