Dear Joe Thomas

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Dear Joe Thomas:

Last night I watched your interview with Graham Bensinger, the one during which you said you’re already experiencing short-term memory loss. Specifically, you said this …

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And this …

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Joe, you don’t know me—and that’s precisely why you should be listening to me. You’re 32. You’ve had a long and illustrious NFL career. You’ve made millions of dollars. You have a wife. You have kids.

You need to retire—now.

What you are doing is not masculine or tough or impressive. You’re not standing up and taking one for the team. You’re not showing strength in the face of weakness. No, you are being selfish and unwise.

See, down the line that lovely wife and those beautiful kids—they’ll be the ones caring for you; suffering; reminding you that you already had a bowl of ice cream; reminding you the man paying a visit is Brian Hoyer—”Joe, you remember Brian. He played with you in Cleveland. In the National Football League. You were a lineman. For the Browns.”

I’ve seen this movie time after time, and it’s preposterously ugly. Google Jerry Eckwood. Google Dave Pear. Google Mark Gastineau. Google Harry Carson. Google Kevin Turner. You are damning the future of your family … and why? So you can make more millions to add to your millions? So you can go 4-12 this season, but improve to 8-8 in 2018?

Pro Bowls, Super Bowls, Hall of Fame—none of these things is worth the continued surrendering of your health. Oh, and the whole “damage is already done” thinking. Simply not true. This stuff gets worse. And worse. The more concussions you suffer, the more likely you are to wind up here.

Joe, you’re not old. You’re 32. You should have a long and fruitful post-football existence ahead of you.

Let’s begin today.


Jeff Pearlman


PS: And if the Browns and the NFL aren’t pushing you out the door today—shame on them. Fucking shame.

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