Written By: Philip Casteel - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Born on September 1, 1973 in Pampa, Texas, Zach Thomas was a force to be reckoned with on the football field. Only measuring 5 feet 11 inches, this 242 pound linebacker out of Texas Tech had an impressive and fearsome career.
Thomas went to school in Pampa, Texas where he was named first team All-State as a senior. Thomas would later develop his skills at Texas Tech. Thomas was a three year starter at Tech and was a Butkus Award finalist. Thomas would record a record 390 tackles, including a career high 131 tackles and a school record of 20 tackles against Missouri in his senior season. Thomas also racked up several other awards like two-time Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and was a consensus All-American in his junior and senior years.
Thomas was drafted in the fifth round, 154th pick in the 1996 NFL draft. Thomas agreed to a three year $577,000 contract with the Miami Dolphins. His Rookie season Thomas was a Pro Bowl alternate and an All-Rookie selection. In 1998 Thomas made All-Pro for the first time and was part of the Dolphins defense that allowed fewest points in the NFL that year.
Thomas signed a $22.5 million five year deal in February 13, 1999, to remain with the Dolphins. Thomas' $6.5 million in salary and bonus made him the highest paid player in the Dolphins franchise, surpassing Hall of Famer Dan Marino. In 2002 Thomas was selected first-Team All-Pro for the fourth time in five seasons. Later in 2003 Thomas signed a five year, $33.75 million contract extension with the Dolphins. Thomas was selected to his seventh Pro Bowl appearance in 2006, tied for the third most Pro Bowl appearances in franchises history. Thomas has also been selected First- and Second-Team All-Pro seven times.
Thomas' tenure with the Dolphins ended on February 14, 2008, when it was announced by the team that he no longer fit into their long term plans and his contract was terminated.
On February 23, 2008 after contract offers from the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots, Thomas decided to sign in principle with the Dallas Cowboys to a one-year, $3 million contract. The deal includes a $1 million base salary, a $1 million signing bonus and a $1 million incentive-based bonus. Thomas played one season with the Cowboys.
On May 18, 2010 Thomas signed a one-day contract, officially worth $1 to retire as a dolphin.
Thomas' career NFL statistics are 1,776 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 17 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles. Other awards Thomas has received are two-time NFL Alumni Association's Linebacker of the Year in 1998 and 2006, 1998 All-Madden Team, All-Iron Team as selected by CBS analyst Phil Simms in 2001, First-team Sports Illustrated All-Pro in 2003, and more tackles than any linebacker currently in the Hall of Fame.
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