Romeo Crennel: Consistency defines Joe Thomas' career

Coached Thomas' first 2 seasons in Cleveland

Daryl Ruiter
March 19, 2018 - 11:38 am
Romeo Crennel

Photo by: Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal MCT/Sipa/USA Today Images

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) - One word defines Joe Thomas' career: consistency.

That's how former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel remembers the presumed future Hall of Fame left tackle.

“He was consistent. That’s one of the best things about Joe that I appreciated," Crennel told Ken Carmen and Anthony Lima Monday morning on 92.3 The Fan. "He was a very consistent guy. He had confidence in his ability and in himself, but the consistency was the thing. He came to work every day, he put it on the field on game day. I think that has been shown through his career, being able to go to all those Pro Bowls, and being able to play as many plays in-a-row as he’s played. Both of those things are tremendous accomplishments.”

The Browns selected Thomas third overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. Then general manager Phil Savage made his mind up entering the draft that the Wisconsin native would be his target early.

Crennel explained to Carman and Lima what stood out most about Thomas leading up to that decision.

“The thing that kind of impressed me about him is that he decided to go fishing with his dad rather than go to New York for the draft," Crennel said. "That said a lot to me about the kind of person that he was. Not that going to New York is bad or anything like that, but for a young man having a chance to go to New York or spend time with their dad, and he chose to spend time with his dad and that said a lot to me about the type of person that he was.”

Thomas went on to make 10 straight Pro Bowls and he didn't miss a single snap - 10,363 of them to be exact - until suffering what ended up being a season-ending and career ending torn triceps tendon on Oct. 22, 2017. 

“I knew he was going to be good and I knew that he had what it took," Crennel said. "We knew that we liked him. We knew we liked his abilities. We knew we liked his as a person.  And then, he came in and he proved us right, basically. That career of his is a great career, and probably will end up in Canton.”

Crennel and the Browns won 10 games during Thomas' rookie season but lost a tie-breaker that cost them a playoff berth. A rash of injuries derailed the 2008 season and saw the team go 4-12 and with that Crennel and Savage were fired after four years together. 

Five more head coaches and six more general managers followed for Thomas, who saw the Browns win just 38 more games after his rookie year while losing 113 that he was on the field over the next decade.

Crennel offered this to Thomas, who hold his retirement press conference Monday afternoon.

“I would tell him, first of all, that I appreciate the person that he is," Crennel said. "He showed me who he was when he went fishing with his dad on draft day. He showed me who he was with his consistency of play and of playing time in his career. To be able to make the decision after all the years, and know that his body cannot sustain his level of expectation and his level of play that he demands of himself, and so now I’m going to step aside. All of those things combined say what kind of person that Joe is. I appreciate that person and I wish him the best.”​

With Thomas riding off into the sunset, replacing him will be difficult, if not impossible for the Browns.

Crennel believes that there might never be another like him again. 

“I think it’s going to be hard. I mean when you think about playing over [10,000] consecutive snaps at his position, where there’s contact on every play, and I know that in this game that physical contact wears on the body," Crennel said. "To not miss one snap because he was banged up or because he didn’t feel good, he just went out and he played, and he played and he played. That’s a tremendous accomplishment, I’m telling you, it really is.

"When you look at the continuum of left tackles, I think that he’s going to be up there pretty high on the continuum for what he’s been able to accomplish.”