CANTON, Ohio — Zach Thomas was among nine members of the class of 2023 enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during a four-hour ceremony Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Thomas, the five-time All-Pro linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, kicked off the speeches.
The 5-foot-11 Thomas, only the third linebacker under 6 feet to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, thanked everyone from Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson and former teammates Dan Marino and Jason Taylor to Bills, Jets and Patriots fans who "screamed" and "threw things" at him. He choked up when he mentioned fellow Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012.
"When I was 2 years old, I was run over by a pickup truck," Thomas said. "And you know what saved me that day? Dirt. If it was concrete or pavement, I wouldn't be here right now. My life has taken a lot of dirt roads to get here."
Thomas was presented by Johnson, who drafted the undersized linebacker in the fifth round in 1996.
"I've drafted, recruited and coached 17 Hall of Fame players," Johnson said. "Of all those players, Zach was the hardest working."