Hailing from White Deer, Texas, Thomas was what many consider an undersized linebacker in today’s age, but he never let the odds defy him, earning five All-Pro nods and joining the exclusive gold jacket club.
Dolphins Legend Zach Thomas Inducted Into Hall of Fame
Aug. 5 will forever be a full-circle moment for Thomas. Back in 1996, the fifth-round selection was named the starting linebacker for the Dolphins. And 27 years later, on the same day, he gave his speech in Canton.
“My football career has come full circle. From Aug. 5, 1996, from being given that one chance to Aug. 5, 2023, to forever being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” said Thomas as he closed his speech.
A full circle moment. pic.twitter.com/XaNEFtpCb5
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 5, 2023
Thomas started off by thanking the people he met through the dirt roads of White Deer, Pampa, and Lubbock, Texas, crediting them for teaching him how to win and be instructive.
He continued to thank a lot of former Dolphins, including fellow Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Jason Taylor — who is also his former brother-in-law — for shaping him into the player he was.
“I want to thank the entire Dolphin organization for being my second family,” Thomas said. “You were my family for 12 years, and I can’t thank you enough … And to all my passionate Miami Dolphins fans, you were the world to me. Thank you for believing in me till the very end.”
Thomas had fun with his fellow AFC East fans, saying that he really enjoyed all the things Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and New England Patriots fans did to him. He shouted out Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and New York Jets hall of Famer Kevin Mawae.
Zach Thomas Remembers Junior Seau
Through all the family members and friends, it was actually one of Thomas’ former teammates that got him choked up at the end as he talked about the late Junior Seau.
The Texas Tech alum, and first Red Raider to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, said that he had a poster of Seau hanging on his wall in college.
The two were teammates on the Dolphins for three seasons (2003-05). Thomas called him his inspiration and said that he loved his friend, whose bust will forever be in the same room as Thomas’.
Zach Thomas pays tribute to the late Junior Seau ❤️
Together again in Canton!
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) August 5, 2023
“Though he’s not here physically, he’s here in spirit in a bust in that building behind me,” Thomas said. “I am truly honored to join him. Junior Seau, love you, buddy.”
Thomas represented the American dream of a kid from a small town just trying to make a name for himself through hard work.