The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced linebacker Zach Thomas has been elected as part of the nine-man Class of 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame. Thomas is the 11th player or coach from the Miami Dolphins to earn the game’s greatest honor.
Thomas was one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history. His career spanned 13 seasons – 12 of them with Miami – and his 1,734 career tackles rank fifth in NFL history (since records began in 1987). His seven Pro Bowl selections are the most all-time by a Dolphins defender and he was named first-team All-Pro five times.
“I am truly honored and humbled to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Thomas said. “Growing up in Texas, I dreamed of playing football at any level. To have played at Texas Tech and then be drafted by the Dolphins was the ultimate. It was indeed a dream come true. I want to thank my family for all the sacrifices they made for me over the years. I could never have accomplished this without your love and support. Thank you to all of my teammates. Each of you made me a better player and are a big part of where I am today. I’m looking forward to celebrating this with all of you. Thanks to all my coaches, trainers and equipment staff for helping this honor become a reality. Lastly, I want to thank the Dolphins fans. Your support means everything to me.”
A fifth-round draft pick (154th overall) by Miami in the 1996 NFL Draft, Thomas quickly established himself as one of the league’s top players, winning the 1996 AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He went on to lead the NFL in tackles twice, lead the Dolphins in tackles 10 times, earn two Dan Marino Team MVP awards, three Don Shula Leadership honors and was named NFL Linebacker of the Year twice. Thomas was Miami’s middle linebacker during a run of seven straight seasons (1998-2004) that the Dolphins finished top 10 in total defense.
“On behalf of the entire Dolphins organization and our fans around the world, I want to congratulate Zach on his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” said Dolphins Chairman of the Board/Managing General Partner Stephen M. Ross. “It was a joy to watch him play the game. Zach’s accomplishments on the field made him one of the greatest players in NFL history. His development from a fifth-round draft choice to a perennial Pro Bowl selection to receiving the most prestigious honor this game has to offer is a testament to his ability as both a player and a student of the game. As great as he was on the field, he is even better as a family man and a role model. We look forward to celebrating with him in Canton.”
Thomas becomes the third defensive player in team history to earn a bust in Canton, Ohio, joining legendary linebacker Nick Buoniconti and defensive end Jason Taylor. Other Dolphins enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame include coach Don Shula, fullback Larry Csonka, quarterback Bob Griese, center Jim Langer, guard Larry Little, quarterback Dan Marino, center Dwight Stephenson and wide receiver Paul Warfield.
The Class of 2023 will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 5, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. Tickets for Enshrinement will go on sale in the coming weeks.