Pro Bowls have been watered down and the same with stats like a 1,000 yard rusher now with 16 game schedules as apposed to when teams only played 12 game seasons like a Jim Brown when he left the game lapped every single player by thousands of yards and dozens of TDs, oh and Brown never missed a game in his career.
Pro Bowls don't mean nearly as much now since so many players skip it. When those guys skip it, other guys get qualified as Pro Bowlers to replace them. So there's like a 15-20% inflation of number of Pro Bowlers which devalues the whole thing.
Joe Thomas doesn't play a position where he can ring up cheap POS stats just because. He plays a position where guys come in and look like the next Anthony Munoz but they flame out. See Jake Long or Matt Kahlill, or Jason Smith, or Levi Brown, or D'Brickshaw Ferguson, or a Robert Gallery, or a ....
Considering that Joe Thomas didn't just start hot but has consistently performed better than ANYONE at his position during his career and has never missed a single snap in his career and he has made ALL-PRO status in his career meaning he was voted as the best at this position by his peers means he isn't just some guy who put up cheap stats or was some flashy guy who everyone remembers one play. He is the meat and potatoes that the game relies on and he gets overlooked and that is why this list has no other offensive linemen. They get overlooked unless they make a mistake.
Name another offensive lineman who has been as consistently good and durable over the last decade? Over the last two decades? Three?
That legacy is why Joe Thomas is going to the HOF.
I completely agree with all of this. The All-Pro selections on their own will get him in and deservidly so.
Good point about the Pro Bowl inflation, GroveDiesel. I had thought that PFR only credited players who were originally selected to the Pro Bowl, and not the injury replacements, but I was wrong. PB+AP would make a better career summary stat if it only included voted-in Pro Bowls.
If we just look at All-Pros, here is a complete list of all the players who 1) retired before 2010, 2) aren't in the Hall, and 3) have 4+ All-Pros since 1970:
5 Zach Thomas
4 LeRoy Butler
That is all.
Joe Thomas, Kevin Williams, and Patrick Willis are all sitting with 5. Jahri Evans, Revis, Polamalu, and Ware all have 4.