CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas has been nominated for the National Football League’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, the team announced Tuesday.
The NFL created the award in 2014 in honor of former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney Sr., a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The award recognizes players who show “outstanding sportsmanship” throughout the regular season.
“Joe Thomas is a football player,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said prior to last week’s game against the Detroit Lions. “This is all he has ever known. The guy hasn’t missed many snaps (laughter). He hadn’t missed any snaps until this happened, so that is what is in his blood.
“He is a football player by trade and a mentor and a coach when he is not. I think it is hard to let that go. He is invited to anything we have. He knows that. He can run the meeting if he wants. As long as you give him the right information, we are all good.”
Thomas may be out of the remainder of the season because of a torn triceps tendon in his left arm, but that is not stopping him from making an impact in the locker room and imparting 11 years’ worth of NFL knowledge to his teammates.
“Coach Thomas has a lot of experience, doesn’t he?” Jackson said with a laugh after last Wednesday’s practice. “It is a lot of fun having him out there. Joe, as I keep telling you guys, is a huge part of what we do in not just we wish he was out there for us, but the players, he is a mentor to a lot of these guys in a lot of different ways.”
Last December, Thomas was selected to his 10th straight Pro Bowl, making it 10 for 10 in all-star game nods since entering the league via the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft out of the University of Wisconsin.
Thomas was the first Browns player ever selected to participate in 10 Pro Bowls, and was among only a handful of Pro Football Hall of Famers to appear in 10 straight all-star games at the start of his career.
Prior to the injury, Thomas played 10,363 consecutive snaps, which is believed to be the longest such streak in NFL history.
“Having him out there and having him be involved is huge,” Jackson said. “As I asked him earlier in the week, I wanted to make sure he is traveling with us, going on the road and being part of this because this is still his team. Having him around and having him want to be a part of that is very important to me, to our players, to our staff and to all involved.”
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