Last Saturday, I waited to hear with great anticipation the Hall of Fame class of 2020 with Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas being a finalist. I felt this would be the year he gets in especially with the Super Bowl in Miami and the coach who drafted him, Jimmy Johnson, going into the Hall of Fame as well it seemed perfect. However, when the final list came out Thomas was left off being passed over.
Zach Thomas has always been the underdog throughout his entire career with people doubting him because he was too small and not fast. However, Thomas had a lot of heart and desire and laid it out on the line every Sunday his whole career. He’s not a big rah rah guy who glam-ores the spot light or publicity. He’s a guy who loved the game and played with a passion that you would like to see all players play with.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) February 7, 2020
In 1996, Johnson drafted Thomas out of Texas Tech thinking he would be a terrific on special teams, but Thomas had a great camp and beat out Jack Del Rio for the starting middle linebacker job and the rest is history. Del Rio was a good player, but Johnson saw something in Thomas to make the switch. Thomas was a play maker and would constantly run sideline to sideline making tackle after tackle. Wherever the ball was Zach was to help make a game changing play and that’s what he was a game changer and you always had to account for where he was on the field. Thomas would fill the stat sheet with his tackle, but his impact was more than stats. If the Dolphins needed a fourth down stop, Thomas would always be there for the big tackle, forced fumble, sack, interception, or whatever to change the game. He even returned 4 interceptions for touchdowns, the most by any Dolphins linebacker in the team’s history.
What separated Thomas from everyone else was his game preparation. He was always the first guy in the building and the last guy out. Watching countless film and working out hard to prepare himself for the grind of the NFL season and each game. Thomas’ preparation was a main reason he would be where the ball went. He always recognized plays and formations and knew what teams were doing and where plays would go. When the Dolphins needed a big play that’s where his preparation paid off.
The Dolphins were lucky to have Zach Thomas for all of those years and frankly they haven’t found another player like him at his position. Those players are hard to find. Players that plays with the love of the game and put time into their craft like Thomas did.
The one knock on Thomas not getting into the Hall of Fame is because he didn’t play in or win a Super Bowl. Are you kidding me? That’s not what we should judge players on getting into the Hall of Fame. You get in because you earned it and you were great. It’s not Thomas’ fault the Dolphins didn’t get an offense to compliment his team’s defenses. Thomas is more deserving than some players that were voted in this weekend and in the past. I remember Steve Atwater and he had a good career no question, but I don’t remember him ever being that great.
Thomas may have gained some momentum this weekend from voters and may get in one, but it’s not a lock and my fear is the years will go by and other modern players up for the Hall of Fame will get in and Thomas will be an afterthought. Zach Thomas is a Hall of Famer and should be in period.