Joe Thomas Will Make It A Family Affair At Hall Of Fame Enshrinement Ceremonies In Canton

There were three Joe Thomas children at his retirement press conference five years ago. There will be a fourth at his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in August. (Cleveland Browns)

There were three Joe Thomas children at his retirement press conference five years ago. There will be a fourth at his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in August. (Cleveland Browns)

Joe Thomas will make it a family affair at Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies in Canton

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.

Takeaways from NFL news and notes … 

Joe Thomas has chosen his wife Annie and their four young children to serve as his presenters when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton on August 5.

Thomas disclosed the news Monday while touring the Hall with his family and those of the other eight members of the Class of 2023.

The presenter is a prestigious honor that typically is given to a major influential figure in the enshrinee’s life and career.

In the past, the presenter gave a live speech on stage to introduce the enshrinee. As those speeches grew in length over time, often exceeding prescribed time-limits and bogging down the ceremonies, the Hall made a smart change.

Presenters now tell the story of their enshrinee in a craftily-edited, pre-recorded video that is played on the stadium’s video screens. Then they assist the enshrinee on stage in unveiling the bust of the Hall of Famer. 

It’s a dramatic moment – the first time the enshrinee actually sees the finished product of the sculpted bust that is displayed forever in the Canton museum.

Thomas said that former Browns teammate Alex Mack, one of his best friends during his career, was his runner-up choice.

It’s not a surprise to me that Thomas chose his wife and four children – Logan, 10; Camryn, 8; Jack, 6; and Reese, 4. Joe is a loyal family man through and through. Annie supported Joe through some extremely difficult times dealing with health issues from his record consecutive snaps played streak and coping with the despair of relentless team losing during Joe’s career with the Browns.

The couple’s three oldest children were born in Cleveland. Annie said all have been raised as Browns fans. None was old enough to appreciate their dad’s playing career. But they have caught up fast and have been enjoying every step of Joe’s final path to Canton.

Double whammy on Ravens

The Browns’ fully guaranteed $230 million contract given to Deshaun Watson a year ago continues to torment the Baltimore Ravens.

It became the baseline for what former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson has demanded from the Ravens. Also, it is impacting the Ravens’ decision on which franchise tag to apply to Jackson this year – the non-exclusive tag or the exclusive tag.

The non-exclusive tag, valued at a guaranteed $32.4 million for 2023, allows Jackson to negotiate with other teams. If he receives an offer sheet, the Ravens can match that offer or elect to be compensated with two first-round draft picks if they pass.

The exclusive tag prevents Jackson from entertaining offers. Its value is determined by the top five salary cap figures among quarterbacks.

Watson’s current $54.99 million cap figure for 2023 – tops among quarterbacks -- increases the QB exclusive tag value to $45.2 million.

Everybody knows the Browns intend to convert Watson’s 2023 contract to a cash signing bonus to reduce his cap number. Doing so would result in a $35 million net cap gain by the Browns. It would bring them from about $14 million OVER the cap to about $21 million UNDER the cap – freeing space to participate in free agent spending for new players.

But the Browns won’t complete the simple conversion until after the deadline for the Ravens to decide on Jackson’s tag passes on Tuesday.

“It’s a real interesting situation there,” Jason Fitzgerald, founder of, said on
The Insider’s Hour on TheLandOnDemand. “I would think as a division rival, if you can drive that price up for them by millions of dollars, that probably benefits you and your standing within the AFC North.”

Fitzgerald said the “outlier” contract given Watson by the Browns surely has hurt the Ravens and is “just going to lead to a big fight between [Jackson and the Ravens].”

Quick hitters

I would expect one or two Philadelphia Eagles free agents to defect to the Browns when the free agent signing period begins on March 15. Tackles Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox, and end Brandon Graham, are possibilities. Safety Chauncey (C.J.) Gardner-Johnson is a longer shot …

The Internet chatter of the Browns trading running back Nick Chubb is laughable. The franchise’s recent history of tone-deaf foibles, however, causes me to pause from totally trashing it. Safe to say, a trade of Chubb would be as destructive to the team’s suffering fan base as the trade of Paul Warfield in 1970. Google it …

It’s obvious that the New York Jets want Aaron Rodgers to force a trade to them. If that doesn’t happen, Jimmy Garoppolo should end up as the Jets’ new quarterback …

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud has a chance to be the first player taken in the 2023 draft if somebody trades up for the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 overall pick. If that doesn’t happen, the Houston Texans will choose Alabama’s Bryce Young as their QB at No. 2.