By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns star left tackle Joe Thomas has retired after 11 seasons in the NFL, ending a career in which he exemplified durability, dependability and dominance.
A 10-time Pro Bowler, Thomas announced his decision Wednesday after spending several months contemplating whether to come back following a season-ending injury.
Thomas never missed a snap before tearing his left triceps during an Oct. 22 game against Tennessee. His streak of 10,363 consecutive plays is believed to be the longest run in pro football history.
“This was an extremely difficult decision, but the right one for me and my family,” Thomas said. “Playing in the NFL has taken a toll on my body and I can no longer physically compete at the level I need to.”
Thomas was selected by the Browns with the No. 3 overall pick in 2007 out of Wisconsin, and the gregarious 6-foot-6, 310-pounder became the best player in Cleveland’s expansion era.
“From the moment I was drafted, the city embraced me in a way that I could never fully describe,” Thomas said. “I am proud to call Cleveland home. The loyalty and passion of Browns fans is unmatched and it was an honor to play in front of them from the past 11 years.
“I would like to thank all of the coaches, teammates, staff, fans and everyone who has shown me support throughout my career. Even though I will be hanging up my cleats, I will always be a Cleveland Brown.”
Thomas is just one of five players — and the only offensive lineman — to be selected to the Pro Bowl in his first 10 seasons. The other four players are Hall of Famers.
“Joe has been a pillar of our organization and one of the greatest to put on a Cleveland Browns uniform,” said owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam.
“We want to thank him for everything he has done for the Browns and the Northeast Ohio community. We should all strive for the standard Joe has set to always be available, put the team above yourself and always give maximum effort.
“One of the first ways we will acknowledge and honor his accomplishments is to enshrine the number 10,363 to recognize his consecutive snaps streak in the team’s Ring of Honor at a home game this season. It also won’t be long before he takes his rightful place down the road in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
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(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)