I’ve asked Brian over at phinphanatic to let us know all about Zach Thomas, the hard-hitting tackling machine the Dallas Cowboys just signed to a 1-year deal. It appears Thomas will replace Akin Ayodele. So, to those who may not know a lot about Zach Thomas, Brian is going to fill us in:
I have been a Miami Dolphins fan all my life…38 years and counting. I have watched guys like Larry Csonka play for the Giants, Bob Griese play behind a kid named David Woodley. Marino and Shula get pushed into the sunset. Over the last 12 years I have seen very little from the Phins. I have however had the privilege of watching Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas play on Sundays. The former has yet to be traded although it seems likely. The latter is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys. A bittersweet pill after 12 wonderful years in Miami. So what exactly are the Cowboys getting? Simple. The Cowboys above all else are getting 2 things: A football player and a leader.
Thomas has been affectionately called the “little engine that could” and “Lego-Man” because of the resemblance to a Lego figure. He has been called Barney Rubble and a slew of others. What he has never been called is unprofessional. The Dallas Cowboys have not received a linebacker that is going to win them 2 or 3 more games or catapult them instantly into the playoffs or Super Bowl. That is not Zach Thomas at this stage of his career. What the Cowboys received is a workhorse no-quit-all football player who will lift the attitude and drive of everyone else around him and that could catapult the Cowboys into the next level.
At 35 years old, Thomas is nowhere near the player he was even 5 years ago. His body aches a little more on Monday mornings and getting out of bed I am sure is a little harder. Yet for his age, Zach Thomas will play every down that he can convince Wade Phillips to let him. He will sacrifice his body as though he were still playing ball at Texas Tech.
He will prepare the same way he does, he will practice at 110 percent, he doesn’t quit, he doesn’t know the word. He is only made to stop by others.
Zach spent the better portion of his career playing the 4-3 defense designed on focusing the ball carrier into the middle linebacker spot where Thomas would punish them. When the Dolphins switched to a 3-4 hybrid, many thought that Thomas would be too small, instead, he loved it, he learned, he adapted. Too small? Zach Thomas is too small to be playing in the NFL period. He has only led the Dolphins in tackles almost every year in the league. The years he didn’t he was injured.
Last year Thomas unceremoniously was placed on IR against his will. Ironically it was in week 2 against the Dallas Cowboys that Thomas suffered a serious concussion. He finished the game but immediately afterwards was listed out for the next 4 weeks. He returned to play the NE Patriots without any ill effects but on the way home was rear-ended on the Florida turnpike and suffered another concussion that left him with sever migraines the rest of the season. Thomas had played his last game for the Dolphins.
At least for next year, the Cowboys will gain a few thousand more fans, not the kind that spend their money on game jerseys or memorabilia, but the ones that cheer for the team to see Thomas get a ring…or at least the chance to.
In Miami, Zach Thomas is recognized in the same breath as every other Miami great. He will be a legend when his career comes to its final conclusion. Do you want to know what you are getting with Zach Thomas? What your spending a possible $2-3 million dollars on? It’s not a legend from another team, it’s not even a pro-bowl caliber linebacker. No, it’s non of that. Your getting high octane, high-impulse, no quit “energy”.
Will Zach Thomas finish out the season? No one can be sure of that. He is healthy, but one serious hit and he could easily be talking retirement a lot earlier than the end of the season. If he is used correctly Thomas will elevate the men around him. He hates to lose, but more than that, he hates losing mentality and attitude.
Zach Thomas is no longer spectacular, but he sure as hell is still really special. On and off the field.