Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 1/21/13

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 01: Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears is double-teamed blocked by Joe Thomas #73 and Eric Steinbach #65 of the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field on November 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Browns 30-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Cleveland’s Pro-Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas has not missed a snap in his six year NFL career. That is an amazing achievement. On Sunday, he added another achievement to his resume- Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year finalist- “Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas has been selected as one of three finalists for the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, the NFL announced today. Renamed in 1999 after legendary Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, this honor is the only league award that recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service activities as well as his playing excellence. Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Dallas tight end Jason Witten join Thomas as the three finalists. The winner will be announced the night before Super Bowl XLVIII, at the “2nd Annual NFL Honors,” a star-studded football and entertainment event. The two-hour prime time awards special from the Mahalia Jackson Theatre in New Orleans will air nationally on Saturday, February 2, from 9:00-11:00 p.m. (ET) on CBS.  “I am honored and truly humbled to be recognized as a finalist for this award,” said Thomas. “Walter Payton wasn’t just a Hall-of-Fame player, he was also one of the best people that ever played in the NFL and made a difference in so many lives. Giving back is something that is extremely important and the Cleveland community is very special to me.”  “Since he joined the Browns in 2007, Joe Thomas has been a tremendous ambassador for our franchise and Northeast Ohio,” said Browns CEO Joe Banner. “Not only has he established himself as one of the top offensive linemen in the game, but his philanthropic work has had an extremely positive impact on numerous people. Community involvement is one of our top off-field priorities, and Joe epitomizes these efforts. On behalf of everyone at the Cleveland Browns, we would like to congratulate Joe on this outstanding and well-deserved honor.” Thomas made headlines earlier this year for comments that seemed out of character for the generally reserved and quiet All-Pro. Before the Browns game against Kansas City this season, Thomas called former teammate Peyton Hillis “toxic”. [Related: Lombardi has a lot to prove to Cleveland fans]
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