Almost anyone who watches the Miami Dolphins knows how good linebacker Zach Thomas was in his prime. Labeled as an undersized player throughout his whole career, he put hits on offensive players akin to someone twice his size. His career stats are also wow worthy, comparable and even surpassing the likes of Hall of Fame LB Brian Urlacher.
So why, after all this time, is Thomas still not in the Hall of Fame?
Zach Thomas vs. Brian Urlacher Career Comparison
One is a First Ballot Hall of Famer, the other hasn’t even been a finalist pic.twitter.com/Wyx0pPI9BY
— Yung Mayo (@YungMayoYT) February 4, 2018
The theories are abundant, though some border on conspiracy. Some say it’s because Thomas was only a fifth-round pick, while Urlacher was a first-rounder. Some attribute it to Urlacher playing in playoff games and even a Super Bowl while Thomas did not. Maybe his shorter stature is to blame? Or maybe, it’s simply because Thomas is known as a Miami Dolphin, and most media don’t particularly notice or even like the Dolphins.
Whatever the reason, ask anyone who’s actually seen Thomas play, they will say that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Some will even admit they think Thomas was a better player than Urlacher altogether. Unfortunately, with changes being introduced to how Hall of Fame inductees are selected, it’s going to be difficult for Thomas to hear his name called. There are a lot of impressive names standing in his way. Not the least of which are six-time finalist John Lynch, and three-time finalist Isaac Bruce.
Thomas has only been named a semi-finalist, and that was one time.
There is hope, however. Players who played with or against Thomas know how dangerous he was on the football field. They know voters are grossly overlooking Thomas. So 2019 inductee Kevin Mawae, who went to eight Pro Bowls and was a three-time first-team All-Pro, went out of his way to give Thomas a serious endorsement.
“Zach Thomas was my nemesis.” He said during his induction speech. “My first year with the Jets before my first game we each played against each other, Bill Parcells told me in front of my entire team, ‘if you don’t block Thomas, we won’t win the game.’ And for the next 16 matchups I never forgot that. Zach was one of, if not the smartest player I ever faced. He loved the game, had fun when he played, and he brought the best out of me. When people ask me who’s not in the Hall of Fame, and that I think should be, it’s an easy one for me. Number 54 for the Miami Dolphins.”
Back in 2018, Thomas called Mawae the best offensive lineman he ever faced. That’s high praise coming from someone as disruptive as Thomas was. One could argue that Mawae only returned the favor now that he’s in the Hall of Fame. But however it’s contextualized, there’s clearly a high level of respect between the two.
There’s always time for Hall of Fame voters to come to their senses. Plugs like the one Mawae just gave are hard to ignore. If more inductees stand up and give Thomas the same amount of love Mawae did, then sooner or later, those in charge will have to concede.
Zach Thomas deserves a Hall of Fame induction. Fans vocally pull for him every year the voting process begins. Now, they have people with clout supporting their cause. One day, Thomas will get in the Hall of Fame. It’s only a matter of time.