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Zach Thomas, Dolphins Legend, Retires Today

At approximately 4:00 pm eastern time today, an end of an era arrived.

At Dolphins legendary linebacker Zach Thomas’ press conference, not only did Zach announce his retirement, but he also put a stop to something special, that simply was at the end of its days.

Thomas was suffering from lingering post-concussion effects from the multiple concussions he had suffered throughout his career. So it was reasonable to think that this man would retire sometime soon.

But to me, the fact that Zach is finally calling it quits, is unreal. He was always a hero to me, a guy that I looked up to. He carried himself with class, and also had an unmatched tenacity for the game.

Zach was one of the Dolphins all-time greats as a player.

The team’s 1996 fifth-round pick led the team in tackles in 10 of his 12 seasons in Miami and reached the 100-tackle plateau in all but one season. His career totals: 1,720 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 17 interceptions (four of which were for touchdowns), 15 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries.

Throughout Zach’s 14 year career in the NFL, 12 of which were for the Dolphins, there were many highs, and very little lows. In fact, the only low for Zach was that he did not get that elusive championship that he so much deserved.

The press conference was at times emotional today, and really, what can you expect? Zach played the game with his heart on his sleeve, and that is why he was so successful.

“When most people went home at 5 p.m., that’s when I got my edge on everybody,” Thomas said of his notorious film study habits. “It wasn’t like a job to me. It was like recess. I hit the lottery.”

Zach loved his job as an NFL player. That’s as automatic as an answer for as any. But for some reason, I feel sorry for this man, that his career had to end this way, on a note that no one wanted it to end on.

Thomas retired, because he said he had to “quit being in denial”. “Now it’s time to turn the page … There was one thing I’m good at. Now it’s time to see if there’s anything else I’m good at.”

Despite various reports throughout the off-season saying that the Dolphins may not be interested in signing Thomas to a one day contract, in the end, they made it happen.

“To have him retire as a Miami Dolphin, that’s special. Zach will always be viewed as an iconic figure for the Miami Dolphins,” said General Manager Jeff Ireland, who quickly accepted Thomas’ request on Wednesday to sign a ceremonial deal. “What Zach has been able to accomplish, who he is, is a great example to every player on this team.”

The contract that the Dolphins signed Thomas to was worth $1. For some reason, I have a feeling that this man would have played for free.

In an age that is filled with contract disputes and holdouts from camp due to contract issues, this is the type of guy that you want on your team.

Zach was just happy to be there. He was down to earth in the fact that he always wanted to get better, and even though he did find himself stardom in the NFL, he always stayed grounded, and kept working his way to the top.

Thomas went out the right way. He had nothing else to prove, and the end to an era has come. In a way, Zach passed the torch to the next generation of Dolphins linebackers with this to say: “Don’t take the game for granted. The game doesn’t need you. You need the game,” Thomas said. “You don’t really realize that until the game is over with how special it is.”

With youngsters such as A.J. Edds, and Cameron Wake on the team, they should takes note from one of the best.

Like I said, an end of an era has come. That era was The Zach Thomas Era. So long Zach.

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