Joe Thomas-UW Athletic Hall of Fame

Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas (73) plays against the San Diego Chargers in the first half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Joe Thomas will be forced to wait a few more years before his inevitable induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After retiring as one of the NFL's greatest offensive linemen last March, his name won't appear on the ballot until 2023 after a mandatory five-year waiting period.

The former University of Wisconsin standout is set for a similar honor in September, however, as the Badgers announced Thomas as the first member of the UW Athletic Hall of Fame's 2019 class Tuesday.

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The 11-year pro spent his entire NFL career with the Cleveland Browns and made 10 Pro Bowls. His 10,363 consecutive snaps were the most of any player since the NFL began recording snap counts in 1999.

"I loved playing in Cleveland," Thomas said during a Q&A session at the Legends of Wisconsin Classic golf outing Tuesday at University Ridge Golf Course. "I grew up in Milwaukee, so Cleveland as a city is really similar. The people are really similar. The passion for their football teams, for their pro sports teams is really similar. I loved playing there. The fans really embraced me and my personality."

Thomas, a Brookfield native, played for the Badgers from 2003-2006 and moved back to Madison following his retirement from the NFL. As a senior, he won the Outland Trophy and earned consensus first-team All-American honors. The Browns selected him with the third overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

The NFL Network recently signed Thomas to a three-year deal as a studio analyst, most notably for Thursday Night Football. He also hosts a podcast with former Browns teammates Andrew Hawkins.


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