Zach Thomas was elated to see fellow all-decade linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher go into the Hall of Fame this year, believing that gives him reason to hope his day may yet come. But the former Miami Dolphins’ All-Pro told the Talk of Fame Network this week “every year I get nominated. When I don’t get to the finals my phone blows up. I give my family one day to vent …The game doesn’t owe me anything.”
Thomas recalled being a small-town kid from Texas with a dream and a football. That kid didn’t think much about the Hall of Fame.
“When I was eight years old,” he said, “if you told me thin I’d make the High-School Hall of Fame, the College Hall of Fame and be on the bubble for the Pro Football Hall of Fame there’d been no complaining by me. When I was a kid, I would have made a deal with the devil to play one year.”
Thomas played 13 years instead, and nearly all of them were at a high level despite his lack of size. Because of that lack of stature, he told the Talk of Fame Network that he had to use his head “to punch the linemen every time … to get them off me or get mauled.”
That helped to make him a tackling machine but it also had its consequences. It was only when concussion problems born from that fierce playing style began to plague him that Zach Thomas knew it was time to walk away. But before he did, he tried everything he could think of to stay on the field.
“I even tried botox to help me with my headaches,” Thomas said. “That was the craziest thing. I tried everything (but) once I got those (headaches) I wasn’t the same player.”
Hall-of-Fame Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Jim Kelly also is featured this week, with the Talk of Fame Network reprising an interview we did with him in April, 2016. Kelly last week announced his battle with oral cancer, which he believed he had conquered in November, 2014, had begun again.
Kelly talks about his career with our Talk of Fame Network hosts – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – and we replay the interview as a way of reminding our listeners what it means to be “Kelly Tough.”
Rick and Clark also discuss all things combine with the annual NFL cattle call having gone on last week in Indianapolis and take an early look at both the upcoming draft and free agency, which is about to begin. Rick had a dire warning for teams ready to leap with full checkbook into free agency though, arguing “You can’t build a championship team through free agency.”
To hear all that and the rest of the show you can find the Talk of Fame Network Wednesday nights on SB Nation Radio around the country or you can download the free podcast and listen whenever you want by going to iTunes or using the TuneIn app. You can also hear the show at anytime on our website, talkoffamenetwork.com.