Zach Thomas: The case for the Hall of Fame

Credit: The Phinsider

Every August, we see posts explaining why Thomas should be in the Hall, and then the chatter ends. Then, the next year’s finalists are announced and everyone makes their case for Thomas again.

The same thing happens every year; but, hopefully, that changes next year.

HOF Endorsements

On Saturday night, now Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson made sure to let everyone know his thoughts on Thomas. Johnson said “Zach Thomas belongs up here” as he talked about his defense that led the Miami league.

Jimmy Johnson is now the 2nd Hall of Fame inductee to emphasize that Zach Thomas needs to be in the HOF. In 2019, former New York Jets OL, Kevin Mawae said Zach Thomas should be in the HOF.

The Numbers

Thomas was drafted in 1996 and spent 12 seasons with the Dolphins, before spending his last season with the Cowboys. He retired after his 13th season.

Thomas intercepted 17 passes and returned 4 of them for touchdowns. He also forced 16 fumbles. Although the turnover numbers aren’t eye-grabbing, offenses could never be too cautious with the ball around Thomas. With 33 forced turnovers, he is tied with LB Brian Urlacher, who has been in the HOF for 3 years. 

Thomas racked up 1,100 solo tackles and 627 assists through his 13-year career. For comparison, Urlacher and Junior Seau had less tackles. Both are in the Hall of Fame. As a matter of fact, he led the Miami Dolphins in tackles 10 out of his 12 seasons in South Florida. The tackling machine ranks 5th all-time on the tackling list.

It is crucial to note that all 4 players ahead of Thomas on that list played significantly more games than Thomas.

Zach Thomas also had 5 first team all-pro selections and 2 second team all-pro selections. Additionally, he was voted into 7 Pro Bowls.

Clearly, Zach Thomas has the stats to be in the Hall of Fame. From tackles to forcing turnovers, Thomas wreaked havoc wherever he was on the field. 

Leadership

Aside from the numbers, Thomas was a hell of a leader and football mind. He took blame for every Dolphins loss. Thomas was often the first one in the facility and the last one out. During Kevin Mawae’s enshrinement speech, he said Thomas was “one of the smartest, if not the smartest” defender he had ever faced.

On Sunday, Peyton Manning was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Most people consider Manning a top-3 QB of all-time. Whenever Peyton Manning discusses players who posed the greatest challenge, he always mentioned Zach Thomas

According to Manning, Thomas was able to call out the Colts offensive plays.

He was the quarterback of the Miami defense for 12 years, and caused opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators to lose sleep.

Why Zach Thomas isn’t in the HOF yet is, quite literally, unanswerable. He started all but 2 games in his career and has the numbers to compete with other HOF LBs. Thomas averaged almost 10 tackles per game, and was one of the smartest LBs to play the game. He’s been endorsed by two Hall of Famers during their enshrinement speeches and called on of the greats by Peyton Manning.

The difference for Thomas may be that the Dolphins didn’t have real success as a team during his time in Miami. Whatever the reason may be, we won’t ever know. However, at this point, it’s laughable that Zach Thomas doesn’t have his own gold jacket. 

Thomas has been a finalist two years in a row now. He is bound to get in at some point, right? Dolphins Fans all over the world(literally) will have to wait and see if Thomas is on the stage unveiling his bust next August.

Follow Rishi Desai on Twitter.

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