Why there’s “no complaining” by Zach Thomas on Hall snub


Zach Thomas photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins

Former linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher were elected to the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame’s Class of 2018 as first-ballot candidates, and understandably so. They were first-team all-decade choices who dominated the game while they played.

But what about Miami’s Zach Thomas? He was an all-decade choice, too, and the only reason he wasn’t on the first team is because he played when Lewis and Urlacher did. But he’s deserving, named to seven All-Pro teams and seven Pro Bowls, chosen as the AFC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year and twice chosen as the NFL Alumni’s Linebacker of the Year.

The guy was a tackling machine, ranked sixth all-time among linebackers in tackles, yet Zach Thomas has never been a finalist or semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Surprising? Yes. But it doesn’t seem to bother Thomas, who made a rare appearance two weeks ago on a Talk of Fame Network broadcast.

“Every year I get nominated my family, friends and fans all congratulate me,” Thomas said. “But they also … when I don’t get to the finals … my family blows my phone up. So I give them one day to vent. That’s a new rule that I gave them because they’re biased, they’re my biggest fans and they’re proud of me. But I do that just to keep positive energy because the game’s been so good to me. And it doesn’t owe me anything.”

Thomas’ attitude is as refreshing as it is rare. For nearly three years former wide receiver Terrell Owens whined about not making the Hall, calling the process “a total joke” after failing to reach it in his second year of eligibility. But he wasn’t a first-team all-decade choice. He was a second-teamer.

Thomas was a second-teamer, too, and, as I mentioned, hasn’t even been a semifinalist. But he hasn’t complained, and he won’t … for the very reasons he just expressed.

“And that’s why I look at it like this,” he said. “If I deserve to make it, I will make it. And, if I don’t, it doesn’t take anything away from what I’m proudest of. For me, it’s just all ego, and I don’t want to take anything away from the guys that did make it. It’s the best of the best, and you rely on so many different things to make it there.

“For me, if I look back at when I was eight years old … in high school … or college … and I would’ve told myself then that I would’ve made the High School Hall of Fame and I made the College Hall of Fame, but I’d be on the bubble to make the NFL (Pro Football) Hall of Fame, there’s no complaining by me. To make 13 seasons … when I was a kid I would’ve made a deal with the devil to play one year. So just to be in the conversation is an honor.”

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4 Comments

  1. 1976 Pitt Panthers
    March 19, 2018
    Reply

    Thomas was an excellent player, but I don’t know if he was dynamic enough to reach Canton. Wish we had more revealing tackling statistics for the linebackers already enshrined. Thomas seemed to make a ton of his tackles down the field. Those plays had value, but you’d like to see more tackles for minimal gain.

    • March 19, 2018
      Reply

      Those who say he didnt have enough “splash plays'” all i can say is time has definitely faded your memories. Zach made PLENTY of game changing plays. Just go back and take a look at highlights if u need to refresh ur memory. He was an absolute sideline to sideline tacking macine! Guess if he had a signature DANCE MOVE after every big play or was an attention getter he would already be in. But thats what i loved about Zach, just old school hard nose football beast. Hope he makes it in, but regardless he will be among my favorite players ever. Phins up.

  2. Raul
    March 19, 2018
    Reply

    Zach definitely deserves tonbe in the HOF. Not inly he was the real heart and soul of the defense, he was a tackle machine and a big-play defender. He was inspiring and a lot of fans were identified with him and his style of play. The numbers are there, the numbers are comparable to Urlacher
    Maybe if the Dolphins had more playoff games during his era, would be easier. But bottom line, deserves it. I will be happy when he wears that yellow jacket and joins his buddy Taylor in the Hall. Cheers man.
    You can see his numbers here: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/T/ThomZa01.htm

    • 1976 Pitt Panthers
      March 24, 2018
      Reply

      Brian Urlacher has nearly twice the number of career sacks as Zach Thomas, and really impacted the game with his range and speed. He also helped lead an offensively-challenged Bears team to an NFC Championship. Thomas didn’t help himself in the postseason, and compared with other HOF linebackers, falls short in the eye test. The voters have plenty of tape on Thomas, and you have a very good linebacker who was often making tackles down the field. Ultimately, he’s closer to London Fletcher, than a HOF player.

      The other problem is the strong field of HOF candidates, many of whom excelled in the postseason, and were more dynamic.

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