Joe Thomas on watching Cleveland Browns from the sofa

Editor’s Notice: That is The MMQB Further, a sneak peek from Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column, which shall be revealed in full early Monday morning. Under, visitor columnist Joe Thomas, Cleveland’s injured left deal with, writes about watching the Browns-Vikings recreation from his sofa.

By Joe Thomas

CLEVELAND — It’s unusual what you concentrate on when your season is over prematurely—actually unusual for me, contemplating in 10-and-a-half seasons with the Browns, since opening day 2007, I by no means missed a single play. That’s 10,363 consecutive performs, the longest streak in NFL historical past. That modified final week. I tore my left triceps making an attempt to push away linebacker Brian Orakpo on a working play in opposition to Tennessee.

Time and again within the day or two after my tendon snapped, the identical phrases stored coming into my thoughts: “Transfer the drill.”

I considered these phrases Sunday night time, processing the damage. I considered them when the ache woke me up Monday morning, and earlier than I went into surgical procedure Tuesday to have the tendon repaired. Transfer the drill.

In highschool in Wisconsin, I keep in mind a teammate getting harm in observe, and laying on the sector in the course of a workforce drill. The entire observe stopped. Everybody needed to see how the injured man was doing. When that occurs in highschool, when somebody is harm critically, typically the observe simply ends. However my first yr on the College of Wisconsin, I keep in mind a man happening in observe, and he was in ache laying there on the sector, and all people stopped to look. After a few seconds, one of many coaches hollered:

“MOVE THE DRILL!”

All of us simply moved about 30 yards down the sector and continued observe. I believed to myself: “That is essentially the most savage factor I’ve ever seen in my life!” That was my welcome to big-time soccer. As a human being, that’s actually tough. That’s the day I realized: The prepare retains going. I’m not the prepare, I’m a pbadenger.

Final Monday, I used to be at our workforce facility, however I wasn’t within the conferences; I used to be getting badessments, and on the brink of have surgical procedure Tuesday. However the workforce needed to go on. They now have a brand new left deal with, Spencer Drango. I noticed him. I stated, “You’ll do an awesome job Sunday in opposition to Minnesota. Let me know if there’s something I can do to badist.” However everybody in there … they had been simply shifting on. Right here I’m, confronting my profession mortality, and irrespective of the way you put together your self, it comes right down to this: You’re not that essential. If you’re one of many greatest guys on the workforce, you possibly can badume, I’m extra prepare than pbadenger. As a lot as your teammates, coaches and badociates attain out to you to let you know they’ll miss you, the present goes on. They’re taking part in. I’m not. Through the years, I’ve seen it: It’s the factor gamers have the hardest time accepting.

They moved the drill. I’m 32, and I’m the one who’s left behind now.


I knew I used to be going to look at Sunday’s recreation. However after I awoke Sunday morning, greater than just a little a part of me felt: I don’t wish to watch this recreation. It’ll be too laborious. However as 9:30 rolled round—it was early as a result of the sport was in London—I began to get just a little emotional about it. The anthem was performed, American and British, and that basically made me unhappy. The anthem, for me, is actually particular, as a result of I notice how fortunate I’m to have the ability to play soccer for a residing. That sounds sappy, nevertheless it’s true.

I used to be arrange in our household room in our home in Cleveland, three,700 miles away from the sport. It’s loopy—my spouse, Annie, was in London on a long-planned journey. She was on the recreation and I wasn’t! My mother-in-law was with me to badist with our three youngsters, and I used to be capable of simply watch the sport. I felt fairly first rate bodily. I’m not in a lot ache anymore after the surgical procedure on Tuesday. I’m principally torpid and just a little groggy, as a result of I’m not capable of do something with my left arm in a solid. My physique’s simply making an attempt to heal itself. I’ve received to let it.

The sport began, and I felt just a little bit like a diehard fan, truthfully, residing and dying with each play. That’s not who I’m as a participant. I don’t trip that curler coaster as a participant. If you happen to rise up and down and up and down as a participant, you get worn out. That’s no good. However I used to be centered on Spencer principally. We spoke the day earlier than the sport. This was going to be a troublesome matchup for him, going in opposition to the most effective velocity rushers within the recreation, Everson Griffen of the Vikings. I informed him, “Follow your recreation plan. If he beats you one time on his second- or third-best transfer, don’t change your recreation plan due to it. He desires to go upfield, and his spin transfer is his finest transfer. Don’t change if he beats you one time.”

However Spencer did nice. There was a play, after we had been driving within the third quarter, that Griffen received Spencer on a velocity transfer, and I stated, “Sack! No! Oh no!” However DeShone Kizer stepped up and was capable of throw it away. Griffen simply received one sack, on a desperation fourth-down play with two minutes left. However Spencer performed effectively. I imply, very well. That’s a very robust protection. We had been up 16-15 late within the third quarter, and the truth that we made it actually aggressive was truthfully an awesome feeling for me—regardless that we ended up dropping 33-16.

You surprise the way you’re going to really feel watching your workforce for the primary time. That’s the apparent query. If we performed effectively, would I really feel awful as a result of it confirmed they actually don’t want me? If we performed horrible, would I really feel good as a result of it confirmed they desperately want me? I believed I might need felt feelings like that. However I’ve to say, watching the sport late within the third quarter, with a lead over a superb workforce, I’ve been by so many losses that it was thrilling to see us so aggressive.

My greatest concern about watching the sport is that I’d be wanted, and I wouldn’t be there for them. That didn’t occur. Watching the sport, I believed: That is pretty much as good as I’ve felt since I harm myself.


I want there was some dramatic story I might let you know in regards to the damage. There actually isn’t. The entire recreation in opposition to Tennessee, I used to be having ache in my elbow. I believed it was tendinitis. I’ve had that so much. Within the first half, I informed the guard who performs subsequent to me, Joel Bitonio, “Man, my elbow is actually hurting me. I don’t really feel like I can push individuals in any respect.” However that’s not all that a lot totally different than plenty of video games. Possibly 20 occasions in my profession I’ve performed by ache like that, and the one man you complain to is the man subsequent to you. He understands.

Within the third quarter, this play is available in: 13 Wilson. Each workforce has it—it’s a weakside run play from the shotgun. On this case, the again comes by the left deal with and left guard, me and Joel. The meat of the play was regular: Duke Johnson hit the opening between me and Joel, and I’m going to take one shove on Orakpo, and I felt the tendon snap in my elbow.

It was a pointy, stabbing ache, like hitting your humorous bone, and the ache simply gained’t go away. I simply keep in mind yelling one thing like, “Ahhhhhooooowwwwwwwwwww!” Impulsively, these pains early within the recreation made sense. I might really feel the tendon roll up my arm. A very creepy feeling, fairly truthfully.

Then I simply considered the shock, figuring out my season was over. You’re not taking part in. And the streak was over. That basically meant one thing to me. Surprising. I don’t know some other phrase for it.

Our coach, Joe Sheehan, was on the sector quick. He stated to me, “Take some deep breaths.” Then I might start to focus. Once they took me to the sideline and put me in that damage tent, I took my elbow sleeve off and the docs stated, “Are you able to push again in opposition to my resistance?” I couldn’t. Then I knew it was over. My season was in all probability carried out.

I went to get X-rays. Our safety man, John Frain, introduced down my spouse Annie, and I noticed her within the tunnel. We hugged; there have been tears in each our eyes. Then I noticed our government vp, Sashi Brown. That was an fascinating second. Neither of us spoke. We embraced. Silence. We knew what the opposite was pondering.

I received the X-ray, then I went into the locker room. The sport was on TV. However I used to be simply pondering … so many feelings. Despair. Disappointment that I wouldn’t be on the market with the blokes. Disappointment over the top of the streak. Fear for all of the individuals who’d be apprehensive about me—my household, my youngsters, Annie, my teammates. But in addition the sensation that I’d performed 10-and-a-half years, and if I used to be going to get harm, there have been a lot worse accidents than tearing your triceps.

On Monday, all these ideas continued, and so many extra. What’s it gonna be like watching? What’s IR like—I’ve by no means been on it. Was that the final snap I’d ever take within the NFL? Am I gonna maintain taking part in subsequent yr, at 33? Retirement … I haven’t put loads of thought into it, and this isn’t the precise time to consider it. Too many feelings. A part of me says, I don’t wish to exit like this. I need attempt to do the Jerome Bettis. However the different half says, No method you can also make a smart move about that now.

Monday night time was emotional too. My surgical procedure was Tuesday morning at 7:30, so I used to be house Monday night time watching Washington-Philadelphia … and I see Jason Peters, a very nice left deal with, get his leg rolled up on. It seems to be terrible. Main damage. I used to be traumatized. Once they carry out the air solid, it’s all the time dangerous. That was horrific to look at. You noticed how emotional his teammates had been. I received emotional too. I felt horrible for him. It occurred to each of us, back-to-back days.

On Tuesday morning, early, I used to be laying in my mattress at College Hospitals, prepping for surgical procedure. Our physician, James Voos, got here in round 7:30 and informed me, “We’re gonna repair this up. It’ll be higher than new.” It’s fascinating how they re-attach the tendon: It’s like a belt-and-suspenders method. They sew a ribbon by the tendon and weave it by the tendon. They drill two holes within the elbow to re-attach it. The ache principally is from these holes they drill within the elbow.

So earlier than getting lower on, I used to be laying there, simply pondering. I don’t know what you’re presupposed to badume earlier than surgical procedure, however I really had fairly good ideas. Like: I’m fortunate this factor didn’t snap at 9,998 performs—I actually needed to make it to 10,000. And: Suppose how wonderful it’s within the NFL immediately to play 10-and-a-half years with out being actually harm. That’s fairly fortunate. Then they put me out. Just a few miles away, the Browns had been making ready the play with out me for the primary time since 2006. They moved the drill. Now it was time for me to start out the highway again, wherever the highway would lead.

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