Zach Thomas: "It was Like Recess."

By Matt Gullette

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“To me it wasn’t a job. It was like recess.” (Zach Thomas)

Spoken like a true football junkie, as Tony Sparano would put it. And now thanks to the Dolphins’ organization, that West Texas football junkie comes back home to retire as we all knew he rightfully should: a Miami Dolphin (he signed a $1 contract, a deal he said his agent Drew Rosenhaus tried to bargain for $3).

Joking aside, in his press conference today, which you can watch by clicking the link, a humble Zach Thomas thanked everyone. He thanked the fans. His former high school coach. All the players, including the defense lineman with their “huge butts.” His family and brother-in-law Jason Taylor. The Dolphins’ organization, coaches, front office and all the guys behind the scenes. He even thanked the game.

“The game doesn’t need the player. The player needs the game,” he said.

To me, watching Zach Thomas play football was like recess, and it’s been a fun ride. In his career the Zach Attack racked up 1,038 tackles (team record), 19 1/2 sacks and 17 interceptions in 168 games as a Miami Dolphin, and he was selected to seven Pro Bowls—second-most in Dolphins history behind the great Dan Marino.

Zach was the center of arguably the greatest Miami Dolphin defense in the history of the franchise. He was the toughest player I’d ever seen play the game. And he did it all with class and dignity, the way the game is supposed to be played.

And because of the way he played, Zach also dealt with numerous concussions  throughout his career, which is why the 5-foot-11, 228-pound linebacker pledged earlier this year to donate his brain to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine upon his death.

I don’t know what the doctors will find in his brain, but I do know what they’ll find in his heart. That man bled teal and orange. His jersey belongs up there next to #13.

So let me thank you, Zach Thomas. It was a pleasure watching you play, and even a greater pleasure watching you retire a Miami Dolphin. Furthermore, you are living proof of what an “undersized, slow” linebacker can do when their given a chance.

You were the best – a true professional. Zach Thomas, you are What Legends are Made Of.

#54 Zach Thomas

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