CLEVELAND — On Wednesday, Joe Thomas will take the stage at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse as the host of the 2023 Greater Cleveland Sports Awards.
In all likelihood, that won't be the only stage in Northeast Ohio that the Cleveland Browns' legendary left tackle finds himself standing on in 2023.
As a part of the annual NFL Honors show on Feb. 9, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will announce its 2023 class. Currently in his first year of eligibility, the expectation is that Thomas will be getting the call that he'll be enshrined in Canton later this year.
"I feel good," Thomas told 3News' Jim Donovan on Tuesday. "It's starting to feel real a little bit as we talk about, 'Hey, these next couple of weeks, we're not exactly sure when they're going to make an announcement. And if you get in, we've got to start talking about logistics and family members. Where are we going to go? Where are we going to stay? What are the events?' And I think when you start doing those things, it starts becoming real to you."
As Thomas noted, that wasn't always the case.
"Up until just a few weeks ago, it didn't feel quite real," Thomas said. "As you do start thinking about possible plans, you start kind of reflecting on all the people who were such a part of getting you on the doorstep of being in the NFL Hall of Fame. Going down memory lane like that is a lot of fun."
Should Thomas be elected to the Hall of Fame as expected, he would become the first Browns player to have played for the franchise since its return to the league in 1999 to be enshrined in Canton. The 38-year-old would also become the franchise's most recently active player to be inducted since Ozzie Newsome (1978-1990) was enshrined in 1999.
Selected by the Browns out of Wisconsin with the No. 3 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Thomas established himself as one of the best left tackles in football history during his 11 seasons with the franchise. During his time in Cleveland, Thomas was named to 10 consecutive Pro Bowls (2007-2016), six first-team All-Pros and two second-team All-Pros, while playing an NFL record 10,363 consecutive snaps before a torn triceps ended his 2017 season -- and ultimately his career.
Early this month, Thomas was named one of 15 finalists for this year's Hall of Fame class. The other 14 finalists are as follows:
- Jared Allen - DE
- Willie Anderson - OT
- Ronde Barber - DB
- Dwight Freeney - DE/OLB
- Devin Hester - PR/KR/WR
- Torry Holt - WR
- Andre Johnson - WR
- Albert Lewis - CB
- Darrelle Revis - CB
- Zach Thomas - LB
- DeMarcus Ware - LB/DE
- Reggie Wayne - WR
- Patrick Willis - LB
- Darren Woodson - S
You can see Jim's full interview with Thomas in the video player above or the YouTube player below.