Sorry Ray Lewis, Zach Thomas is the Guy

21 May

The 1996 NFL Draft was a darned good one for linebackers. Ray Lewis, Teddy Bruschi, Donnie Edwards, Randall Godfrey, and a handful of other guys who went on to have nice careers. But the story of this crop ended up being an undersized millionaire’s kid from Texas Tech.

The 1996 ESPN Draft scouting report for Thomas that year says it all, with virtually nothing listed but his name and college. POSITION RANKING: NOT AVAILABLE. But thank the Football Gods he was available, at pick 22 of the 5th round. There, looking for depth and some special teams help, we took Thomas.

The rest is history, as Zach would be a Pro Bowl regular, becoming the heart of Miami’s defense, and throwing his limited size around with reckless abandon for twelve years. #54 was seemingly in on every play, taking on guys who were almost uniformly bigger and stronger. Thomas would, quite simply, out-heart them.

Ultimately Zach’s body betrayed him, as concussion after concussion added up. But could he have played any other way? He was a missile, launching himself at anyone and everyone in his path. He was the molehill who played like a mountain.

No clothing line. No TV show. No laundry list of endorsement deals. No entourage. No stabbing deaths. No obstruction of justice. No bullsh*t. Zach Thomas was all willpower. Zach Thomas didn’t need football. Zach Thomas loved it.

And he was the best linebacker we’ve ever seen in Dolphin colors.

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8 Responses to “Sorry Ray Lewis, Zach Thomas is the Guy”

  1. Joe in NM May 21, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    Hear, hear!

    • danewen May 21, 2010 at 11:29 am #

      Joe, I’ve been doing this site for a few months now, and I have waited in vain for a “Hear hear”. Thanks for bringing that wait to an end. And thanks for stopping by The Bottlenose.

  2. gafinfan May 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    There is only one area that Ray Lewis is better than Zach Thomas, if one is giving out an award for mouth, Ray would beat Zach. As for heart, class, comittment, or effort no one out shines #54. Truly, the best of the best!

    P.S. You deserve an Atta-boy of the first order in my book

    • danewen May 21, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

      An “atta-boy” and a “hear hear”, in the same day? If I get a “hurrah” I’m going to retire while I’m on top. Thanks, Gafinfan!

      • peter May 21, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

        “hurrah “danewen great article keep on writing i love all of your articles(especially the brian hartline one)

      • danewen May 22, 2010 at 12:00 am #

        Thanks. I think Hartline will be a fan favorite for a long time.

  3. InFINcible May 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    What a true find Zach turned out to be. When Offerdahl retired we were fortunate to have Bryan Cox. After that I remember dreading the thought of Jack Del Rio being our MLB. Thankfully we nabbed Zach. I’m glad they did what they did and let him sign for a day.

    Go FINS!!

  4. peter May 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    Wow i love this article and all of it is true zach has go to be one of the greatest if not the greatest MLB to play football in the NFl so glad we stole him in the fith round one of the only lucky picks we have ever had it was really great getting to watch a player that just wanted to play and just prove to everyone that he could be great . He was always one of my favorite players to whatch and it is sad to see him go but im really hoping we can get more players like him.

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