LUBBOCK, Texas – Long regarded as one of the top linebackers in NFL history, Zach Thomas will now officially have his place in Canton to prove it as the Texas Tech and Miami Dolphins great was announced Thursday night as a member of the 2023 class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Thomas, a five-time first team All-Pro selection, was one of nine NFL greats selected for enshrinement, joining the likes of cornerback Ronde Barber, linebacker Chuck Howley, defensive tackle Joe Klecko, cornerback Darrelle Revis, cornerback Ken Riley, left tackle Joe Thompson, fellow linebacker DeMarcus Ware and head coach Don Coryell.
"I am truly honored and humbled to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Thomas said in a statement from the Miami Dolphins. "Growing up in Texas, I dreamed of playing football at any level. To have played at Texas Tech and then be drafted by the Dolphins was the ultimate. It was indeed a dream come true. I want to thank my family for all the sacrifices they made for me over the years. I could never have accomplished this without your love and support. Thank you to all of my teammates. Each of you made me a better player and are a big part of where I am today. I'm looking forward to celebrating this with all of you. Thanks to all my coaches, trainers and equipment staff for helping this honor become a reality. Lastly, I want to thank the Dolphins fans. Your support means everything to me."
Over his 13 NFL seasons, including 12 in Miami, Thomas quickly established himself as one of the league's most-consistent players not long after being selected in the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft. There were 153 players picked in that draft class prior to Thomas, but few, if any, possessed the same drive that defined his career.
Always considered too small for the position, Thomas silenced his doubters with 10 seasons of at least 100 tackles, eventually finishing his career with 1,734 stops, the fifth-highest total in league history (since records began in 1987). He was a seven-time selection to the Pro Bowl, the most all-time for a Dolphins defender, and a two-time NFL Linebacker of the Year honoree.
Behind Thomas, the Dolphins developed into one of the NFL's top defensive units. Thomas was named the 1996 AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year and soon after, helped push Miami to a run of seven-consecutive seasons in the league's top 10 for total defense. His prowess for reading opposing offenses earned Thomas the reputation from opposing quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning, as one of the most difficult players to either get out of position.
Thomas becomes the third Dolphins defensive player in team history to be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining linebacker Nick Buoniconti and defensive end Jason Taylor. He is the 11th player or coach from the Miami Dolphins to earn the NFL's greatest honor.
Additionally, Thomas becomes the first Red Raider in program history to be named an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Thomas is already a member of the College Football Hall of Fame as a 2015 inductee as well as the Texas Tech Ring of Honor and Hall of Fame.
The 2023 class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be formally inducted Aug. 5 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
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