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HOF voter: Thomas merits consideration

The question that will come up now as a fun exercize and in five years as serious business is whether Zach Thomas merits Hall of Fame consideration and ultimately will get into the Hall of Fame.

Thomas, 36, will officially retire from football today at a 4 p.m. press conference at Dolphins camp. As I reported this morning, he will sign a ceremonial contract with the Dolphins to retire as a Dolphin. In five years he will become eligible for HOF consideration.

So does his 12 seasons with the Dolphins merit consideration?

"Oh boy ... It's a hard question because there are so many good middle linebackers," The Miami Herald's Edwin Pope told me a while ago. Pope is the South Florida representative in the Hall of Fame voting so he not only gets a vote, but would present the case for Thomas in five years.

"Yeah, I think he's worthy of consideration," Pope continued. "And I think someday he'll be getting it. His body of work is certainly deserving. Smart, aggressive, great team player, great locker room presence. He measures up in every respect except height and that didn't seem to hold him back."

There are currently 19 linebackers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The Dolphins already have one HOF linebacker in Nick Buoniconti.

The greatest inside or middle linebackers? Dick Butkus. Jack Lambert. Mike Singletary. (Sorry, I never saw Ray Nitschke play but he was voted the NFL's greatest linebacker of all time in 1969. There's been 41 years of great linebackers since.)

Butkus had 22 career interceptions with none returned for touchdowns. Thomas, by comparison, had 17 career interceptions with the Dolphins with four returned for touchdowns. The four TDs tied him for fourth with other linebackers behind Jack Pardee (5) and Bobby Bell and Derrick Brooks (6).

Thomas recorded 1,202 career solo tackles during his dozen seasons in Miami. Singletary had 885 solo tackles during his 11 seasons in Chicago. 

The full list of HOF players is here. You can compare Thomas with the other 19 LBs and decide if he's worthy yourself.