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Focus on the Small Things with Joe Thomas

In this episode, Joe Hawley talks with NFL legend Joe Thomas about his personal journey transitioning out of the league. They dive deep into his yoga practice and how that helped him both during his time in the league and in recovering after retirement. They also explore injury, holistic health, and cultivating a healthier relationship with food and weight loss. 

Joe Thomas’s Story

Joe Thomas was an NFL offensive lineman who played 11 years with the Cleveland Browns. He was drafted 3rd pick in 2007 and had developed an impressive resume throughout the entirety of his football career, including: 

  • 10× Pro Bowl (2007–2016)
  • 6× First-team All-Pro (2009–2011, 2013–2015)
  • 2× Second-team All-Pro (2008, 2012)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2007)
  • Unanimous NFL 2010s All-Decade Team
  • Sporting News 2010s All-Decade Team
  • Outland Trophy (2006)
  • Unanimous All-American (2006)
  • 2× First-team All-Big Ten (2005, 2006)
  • Browns Ring of Honor
  • NFL games played: 167
  • NFL games started: 167
  • NFL Ironman, with a record 10,363 consecutive snaps

In the third year of his career, Joe and his teammates were introduced to yoga, which developed into a passion. Yoga helped Thomas gain an understanding of his body and allowed him to develop unique techniques to apply to his position. To this day, he has maintained his yoga practice along with biking, swimming, and lifting to complete his exercise routine.

Although he wasn’t ready at the time, Thomas first began thinking about retirement during his 6th year in the NFL after developing painful back spasms that lasted much of the season due to a bulging disc in his spine. But it wasn’t until his 9th season that the possibility of retirement became real. At this point, Joe had to get his knee drained before and after every game, in addition to taking anti-inflammatory medications just to allow his knee to bend. Outside of games, Thomas struggled to walk or stand for any period of time. He stayed involved during practices by embracing the coach/mentor roles with some of his teammates. 

As his practice hours decreased, Joe developed flexibility in mindset and role that allowed him to experience a smooth transition, unlike many others. When he tore his tricep tendon during his 10th season, rather than ending his career abruptly, Joe felt ready to retire. He then moved on to become an analyst with the NFL Network and is still very much involved in the football world. Additionally, Joe now co-hosts his own podcast, The ThomaHawk Show.

joe thomas with joe hawley life beyond the game podcast
NFL Legend, Joe Thomas

Discussed in this episode:

  • How Joe found yoga and how that helped him become a better player
  • Taking care of the body in a holistic way 
  • Navigating body image issues, drastic weight change, and unhealthy relationships with food
  • Dopamine priming and allowing yourself to get excited to start your day
  • Advice for athletes transitioning out of the league

Connect with Joe Thomas

Twitter | @joethomas73

Podcast | The ThomaHawk Show

Connect with Joe Hawley and The Härt Collective

Website | Joe Hawley

Instagram | @joe.hawley

Website | The Härt Collective

Instagram | @the.hart.collective