« Rosenhaus on Justin Smiley, Ricky Williams | Main | Next chapter for Thomas: Fatherhood, coaching? »

A Miami Dolphins ode to Zach Thomas done right

My first conversation with Zach Thomas happened in the summer of 1996, days after Jimmy Johnson recognized remarkable ability in a pretty unremarkable looking player. Johnson graded Thomas in his first preseason game and promptly cut veteran Jack Del Rio because the coach simply knew Thomas was the Miami Dolphins future at middle linebacker.

That move prompted my initial 20 minute talk with the rookie. When it was over I still had no clue whether Thomas would become a great player or not, whether he'd reward Johnson's confidence or not. I had no clue if Thomas would become a  starter or a special teamer.

But I realized Thomas was a special guy.

During that first talk, Thomas told me he was still getting used to South Florida and that he had finally found a barber he liked. "I got to talking with the guy and told him I'm a football player," Thomas said. "He asked me what high school I played for."

Thomas then made a couple of other jokes about "having no neck," that made me laugh and then we got serious and I asked what his days were like.

He basically recounted how he was showing up at the training facility around 6 a.m. and leaving around 9 or 10 p.m. "Football is a job for me now," he said, "and if it takes me coming to work earlier and leaving later to be a success, that's what I'm going to do every day of my career."

Special.

Special work ethic. Special personality. Special view of reality.Zach1

Thomas was just being himself. But eventually he would be inexorably tied to NFL excellence for the next 14 years.

Despite a promising future, it wasn't until the regular-season opener in 1996 that Thomas finally believed he had arrived.

"We were singing the national anthem," Thomas said. "It was the best feeling in the world. I remember it like it was yesterday, playing the Patriots, Bill Parcells was on the other sidelines and it was a good win. Just knowing that I made it, it’s all kind of like a fog to me now, but I enjoyed the whole ride and what is special to me is really the relationships that I made and like I said and I know that I am repetitive but, to play a game and get paid for it I was grateful."

Thomas knew within himself he had arrived during the national anthem. He announced that arrival to everyone else by knocking wide receiver Shawn Jefferson out cold on a bone-jarring hit that reverberates through time in franchise history.

"I think I gave a concussion that day, and I am not trying to brag, because I got my own, but I gave some too," Thomas said, the old competitor peeking through his business suit. "I am not trying to boast over that, because you never like to see anyone hurt and you never try to hurt anybody, but I felt like that was making a statement saying, ‘Hey here is 54.' "

Fifty-four won't necessarily be retired by the Dolphins. Doesn't matter. We don't need a number to go away for the exploits of the player who wore the digits to live on.

I'll remember that hit on Jefferson. And that goal-line stop of Jerome Bettis. And the day he stole the signals from the New England Patriots and caused Tom Brady to complain.

I'll also remember the Zachisms.

He would talk of his defensive unit "getting rattled," on certain downs during certain games. He would hate to lose because losing could, "contaminate your mind." He would get cold sores on his lips because he worried so much about upcoming games.

And there were the eccentricities, too.

He got in the habit of taking tapes home before other Miami players did. He bought a Hyperbaric chamber and slept in it because he swore it made him recover faster. He wore magnets because he was told they drew blood to certain parts of the body and that made that part heal faster. He went on diets that were matched to his particular blood type.

It was all done to get an edge, to be the best he could be.

"I don’t think that I ever viewed myself as having God-given ability, but I knew I would get that edge somehow," Thomas said. "I have seen a lot of talent come in to this team and out real fast because maybe of work ethic or being lazy -- things like that. It doesn’t really matter, talent if you are on the field, even if you run a 4.2 forty, if you can’t read or recognize a play, or if you are a receiver and can’t catch the ball, it’s a whole different game on that field.

"And that is the one thing that, when I was on that field, I felt fast. When I got out there on the forty sprints, man, the D-lineman were out-running me most of them were. At the combine, I mean it was, I just knew that wasn’t the game of football. The combine, I didn’t even touch the opening height on the vertical jump. There were so many things that upset me because of all the hard work that I put in at college, but those don’t really measure up to what you can do on the field. It has nothing to do with it. But that is why I feel like they always put me as an overachiever.

"But when I was on the field, I didn’t feel it, I felt confident on the field. I might have been insecure for sure during the week, but on game day I was confident.”

Thomas often made fun of his own speech pattern. He said it got slower over the years because of all the hits to the head he endured.

Nonsense.

This guy was sly as well as wise. When he negotiated his first big contract -- a five-year, $22.5 million deal that included a $4.5 million signing bonus and made him the highest-paid Miami player ahead of Dan Marino -- Thomas told me he made sure the deal wasn't backloaded.

Tim Bowens had signed a backloaded deal and was at that time in danger of not collecting that last big year of pay because he was injured and his play had declined. Thomas made sure his deal paid well up front as well as at its end.

And Thomas delivered at both those ends. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1999 and his last in 2006.

Zach2 "I remember when Zach first showed up as a rookie, I thought he and Larry Izzo would make pretty good special teams players," Dan Marino said. "I was right about Larry, but wrong about Zach. He wound up being much beter than that. He used his determination, grit, and love for the game to become one of the best players on our team.

"He was a great teammate. He never took a play off, not even at practice. and his enthusiasm for the sport was contagious throughout the locker room. I'm glad I got a chance to play with him, and I'm happy that he's able to retire as a member of the team he cared so much about."

Thomas kidded that whenever he intercepted a Marino pass in practice, he would call friends to tell him about that thrill. Typical Zach.

In his final minutes as a Miami Dolphins before retiring Thursday, Thomas thanked his family, his coaches, former teammates, trainers, equipment manager Tony Egues, and current and former club media relations people. He also thanked the media.

But mostly Thomas thanked you, the fans, for cheering him on, for wearing his jersey, for being in his corner.

"As for the fans, it has been a great ride," Thomas said. "We have had our ups and downs, but I really feel like you have showed unconditional love for me for the whole time I was here. I am sorry we couldn’t bring you a Super Bowl ring.

"Now that I am fan like you guys, I know that I am excited -- not just because they let me come here and retire, but I know they are on the right track and it is a process and I like what they are doing. I feel like they are going to bring us a Super Bowl ring. Even if I am not involved with the team, I will be a fan and I will be celebrating with these guys. I'd like to thank you for all of your loyalty over the years to me. If I had a bad game or a good game, you always had my back. So I want to thank everyone for coming out today. I appreciate you and go Dolphins." 

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b26169e20134814e62f8970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Miami Dolphins ode to Zach Thomas done right:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

home,


you doing a great job.your football posts are great .don't listen to people .be your self .

ThanX ALoco
Good Luck in the market today
suppose to be a little pop at the opening
Beware of "Suckers Rally"
Advise U Sell Into Strength
Not Buy

ps
Wall Street was one of my Fav movies
That is when Home was deep into the market

New Wall Street Movie W/Mike Douglas should be very good

Hope there is a Honors Ceremony at the Stadium for Zach
Home wants to be part of that

ThanX for the memories Zach
U R Z Best!

Zach Thomas in the radio right now QAM giving great interview with Joe Rose

Zach and Larry Izzo on a drunken night bet they could swim to a bouy and back through a rip tide. Larry turned around, Zach made it to the bouy but had to hang on to it until he was rescued by a Navy seal! Lmao!

Zach thanked Tim Bowens as the player who "by far" helped hia career the most. Said Trace Armstring taught him to be a pro so his career went to the next level. Awesome.

Zach says he had his ups and downs. Funny how I can't remember any of the downs right now.

The Downs
Were the frustration of Never Winning the AFC Division Championship

3 years in a row
Unfortunately Dolphins & Zach only made the first round of the playoffs
Never the second

In the Playoffs
Seemed Our team tightened up and Zach would be chasing opponents behind him after big gains
Looked Like
A Midget with his Head Cut Off
Running Down Field Chasing RBs & TEs to
No Avail (only kidding lol)

Thank you Armando, that was awesome. I was talking about the hit on Jefferson yesterday but had forgotten who the player was, and that it was in Zachs first game! Truly amazing.

Zach is a good guy, and hard worker.

ZT took Jack Del Rios starting job before the preseason was even over.

kris, "whogivesaf**k.com",,was priceless!

Absolutely Beautiful Day in South Florida
Bright Blue Skies & 82 degrees Surf 80 degrees

Gonna Hit The Beach Soon
Surf Beach bout 1 mile from Zach`s Home

While there is still time

Will Have Cocktails & Wonder
Why This Tropical Paradise Had To Be Destroyed

Kris,

What kinds of shrimp do you like? I will call you Bubba Gump Shrimp. Cant remember the name of the movie.

You should of responded to Home in an NJ type fashion. Like: "Home you buffoon, you 50 year old, living in your mom's basement idiot. I forgot more about football than you will ever know, Thanks for stopping by"

Nice piece of writing today Armando!! Zach showed what it was like to love and play the game at his news conference yesterday. I don't know if he will make the HOF, but the man certainly should deserves it on heart and dedication alone

Kris,

I forgot to throw in the part about "Him" working on shoulders or legs day. Like anybody gives a fck. What a bozo

Thats the problem with this world
Nobody "givesaf**.com"

We have so many Ignorant Dummies on the Planet
Ignorance Is Bliss for the Dummies

No Wonder Why
The New World Order
Wants 5 Billion of U Useless Feeders Eliminated

Home, I can think of 2 people that need to be eliminated from this blog.....can you guess??
Make me a guess.

Home, your run-on sentences are killing me. I can't tell if your 10yrs old or 50 with horrible grammer.

Tiburon

"Forest Gump"
and the USA will suffer greatly
Not only the hard working 3rd generation fisherman, shrimp and shellfish farmers
but the #1 vacation & tourist destination in America
Is the Beaches
Over 1000 miles of Southeastern Beaches &
Billions In Economic Dollars R at Stake for starters
Stop acting like a Dumb@ss

The funny thing is the video doesn't even do him justice. You have to watch an entire game to realize just how much he got under the skin and into the heads of opposing offenses racking up 12 to 16 tackles and directing everyone else on defense as to exactly what was going on across the line of scrimmage.

As a few people have pointed out Zach would make a great coach. The guy would be the hardest working coach in football and his players would love him.

The last thing I will say on this. Zach was a great player, teammate, and always treated the fans with the utmost respect. He always made us feel as if he was doing all of this for the game AND the fans and didn't seem to have a selfish bone in his body. He has been sorely missed and I hope to see him back some day coaching the game that we all know he still loves. I will wear my #54 jersey with pride, especially in the meadowland swamp that Zach loved to hate. Thank you Zach Thomas.

camaron
U want to go Dolphin Camp with me
watch the Awesome New Miami Dolphin FAs + Rookies
& watch the chemtrails?

50 with horrible grammer.

Posted by: Dolfan484 | May 21, 2010 at 09:40 AM

It is grammar not grammer. This is your brain on drugs.... any questions!


On topic, Zack was the definition of what a player should be on and off the field. Coaches should get a copy of the farewell conference and show it to their players. Too many today think to okay in the NFL is a right, not a privilege.

Might Go By Zach`s Beach House
See If The Great MLB
Will Autograph My Football w/an Oil Tar Ball

Home why dont you ask Bobby to go to the games with you. Bobby is flying up to meet NJ for a Fins game. They met on one of these blogs. They are just goodhearted guys out for an afternoon game, fun, and beers. JChrist I cant even write this krap with a straight face.

I have to say that I had the pleasure to watch almost all of Zach Thomas' games and he's been a great LB to watch. He is truly a player that personifies hard work and dedication to a sport he loved so much.

Reading some of the articles today, the best part I read was when Zach states that no matter how sore or how roughed up he was, he would remind himself how many people would die to trade places with him and that itself kept him going. I'm one of those guys. I love football and I cringe when I see physical talent wasted by bad decisions (i.e. pacman jones etc), but Zach was none of that. He was a shining example that there are still great players in the NFL. He kept his nose clean and had a fantastic career. I hope he makes it into the HOF. He definitely deserves it.

YO BOBBY SUP

CAT GOT YOUR MOUTH

Bobby did I say anything bad about you in my post? Is that not what you said in a previous post?

As soon as he diagnosed the play for a split second he was like a missile to the ball. An amazing player who gave everything he had on every single play. One of my favorite Dolphins of all time. Your all heart Zach!

WTF What do you mean by greaseball names? You refer to Hispanics by saying this. I believe these names you are talking about are animals.
Mono is monkey
gato is cat
estupido is someone like you

do you get?

You don't have to say anything about me Raton, but u do, everyday u bring up my name so obviously u CARE about me and want to BLOW me...everyday Bobby, Bobby, Bobby, that's all you ever post here

Work time, have a nice day thinking about me dumbass

go talk to pricemaster about your blow problem. Home is sick and tired of your mouth too. Just saying. You should be working, baby. Oh you are are your 15 minute break, my bad.

I am out see ya next time.

GREAT piece.

Please clean up the Filthy language
No Need For That

Home,

Its not that nobody cares. Its that this isn't the correct forum or format.

Why can't you get that thru your head.

I didn't iniatially believe that you were here just to ruin this blog but now kris thinks otherwise

raton
Do Not recognize your posting name
But Am New Here
Is that short for Boca Raton, Fl?
The most southern part of Palm Beach county

My second favorite dolphin of all time. To top off all I said on other blogs. My wife and I fly up to Miami once or twice a year to see a game, that is until we had our son. Well after a loss to Baltimore, Zach pulled out of the stadium with his gf in the car. I was out by the gates long after the game trying to get autographs. I was wearing my 54 jersey and he stopped. He signed a football and apologized to me like 3 times for loosing the game. He said, you fly all the way up here to see us and this is how we play? I thought that was incredible for him to say that.

Home it worked, booby's greasball comment was deleted.

Tiburon,

You got me rolling.

.."shoulders on legs day"

ahhh the memories

Home,

raton means rat

kris, I am glad I made u laugh.

Kris, dang I cant keep my names straight LOL
Now I gotta go work on my triceps, if I can put down my Iphone, and my I pad, that I keep in my Beautiful south Florida home. Now who does this sound like??

Dear Mr. Salguero

Notice you will never see Zach Thomas and The Incredible Hulk in the same place together.

I really like some of the new guys posts for both football and non football related matter.

Kinda like a Marshal Applewhite, David Koresh, Rev. Jim Jones/NFL analyst rolled into one.

Soiled :)

Home Is Here because
Home Loves Miami Dolphin football but
Is An Environmental Patriot

and for some reason has been blessed with
on going knowledge and fore warnings of HAARP, Chemtrail & NWO Severe Weather Controlled & Manipulated Disasters

As proven true many times including Snowfall, Rainfall, Earthquake and Volcanic Eruption Prediction the last 6 months

Home Is Def
Not here To Ruin any Blog

Home Loves The Blog & Walks With Jesus & Armando
For This Info U Find Here Is & Will Be Priceless

***** The Dynasty Be Fins! *****

Soiled you said "new guys" LOL

Kris
How Bout Some more football talk

Whatchu Got My Dolfan Bro?

Home becareful when you hang out with dudes named Jesus and Armando. Bobby does not like Hispanics because he refers to them as greaseballs. He is an ignorant soul is he not?

LOL @ Soiled

Some Hispanics are named Jesus, pronounced Hey Zeus. Bobby would not know what I am talking about

I was shocked the day I read that Jimmy Johnson had cut Jack Del Rio and named some 5th round kid as the starter at middle linebacker. Just couldn't believe it.

But I also remember watching Zach that first game against New England. I was at a friend's house and they were all Pats fans. I remember just grinning ear to ear with pride and excitement as Zach racked up tackle after tackle. He was like a machine. And even the tackles he didn't make by himself, he was on or near the pile by the time the whistle blew.

His whole career was like that.

I've always thought of Zach as a class act and a model for young kids because he showed that heart, work, and desire can count for far more than talent alone. In that sense, he's a modern day version of Rudy. I still proudly wear my #54 Dolphin jersey every Sunday when I go to the sports bar to cheer my Fins. I haven't picked up a new jersey for this season, I think I may wear #54 for at least another year.

Thanks Zach, for all the fun, the great games, the classy behavior, and for representing all the things that are right and good in the sport of professional football. Enjoy your retirement my friend. We'll always love you.

Actually,

It was Dan Marino that went to J.J. and told him to draft Zach. And the rest is history....

Ok Home,

I love Zach Thomas even though I am aware that it may not have come off in tha fashion yesterday. We will let history decide his plays in Dolphin folklore and more importantly in the NFL in genral.

The more I read about the man the more impressed I am. Some really good stuf posted from Poizen about personal experinces with the man. I think its starting to soften me.

As far as current phin football, I am not worried about Brandon Marshall's hip, but the media to include Armando seems to be trying to play the DIVA card and make devisivness where there isn't any.

It is grammar not grammer. This is your brain on drugs.... any questions!

Posted by: camaron | May 21, 2010 at 09:44 AM


Since we're correcting things, the sentence should read:

...any questions?

not

...any questions!

Hey let's sign Zack for the season probably be better than crowder! Lol

There are uncomfirmed reports that bigfoot was sighted driving a plane spewing chemtrails to the HAARP facility in ALaska.

Quick, Home, can you check your sources on Youtube and confirm or deny this report.

Herald bloggers, please be prepared as this may be the herald of the upcoming apocolypse.

On a football note, Zach Thomas was, is, and always will be the man!!

Grrreatdane,

Lets at least get Zach on the payroll as a linebackers coach. His work ethic is unquestioned and would almost definetly spill over to some up and comming draftee.

bigfoot was driving a plane?

Bigfoot can drive anything.I saw on whogivesaf**c.com that Bigfoot is also Zacks barber.

Sigh, I can't believe I have to explain this simply red. Do you think bigfeet are actually capable of flying planes? Geez. Ask Home, he'll tell ya. The average bigfoot has a brain the size of an acorn and it would takes years of training to learn how to actually fly if he could learn at all.

This bigfoot was, allegedly, driving down the highway with Creedence Clearwater Revival blasting spewing chemtrail material at ground level.

The comments to this entry are closed.