When Joe Thomas’ next contract negotiation comes up in Cleveland, he will have additional leverage (you know, in addition to be named to a pro bowl every season of his career). He can always threaten to walk away and begin his lucrative second career as an artist.
Thomas was part of a group of players who attended community events coordinated by USAA and military personnel at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay. Some of the players were at the Play 60 event at the local elementary school, for children of military parents. Meanwhile, another group of players was participating in something called the mural project. Players and military members were side by side painting individual tiles that would be put together to form one mural.
Thomas, though, was particularly intense about his art, sitting at the corner of the giant table, intently focused on the task at hand. He got up to examine it, he used multiple brushes to painstakingly make sure he didn’t cross a line. He consulted when he was not sure which colors to use on the base of his portion of the mural, a rendition of Flag Raising at Iwo Jima.
I was afraid to disrupt him, so I talked to others about Thomas’ focus on the project. “Without a doubt, attention to detail is something that is important for, I think, football and military, you have to be on point and doing the right thing, so I think we have a leg up on our painting ability because of that,” teammate and fellow member of the offensive line Alex Mack said.
“That’s Joe for you, detail guy,” added Jordan Cameron when I asked about the intensity his teammate brought, and when I noted his precise lines as well, Cameron added that he got his practice being the father of a five year old boy, and that he didn’t “want to be the guy who messes up the whole thing, I’m trying to do my part.”
Thomas was sitting next to Sergeant Ken Phillips, who clicked instantly with Thomas because he is from Ohio. When Thomas got up to consult on his color scheme, Sergeant Phillips added, “he really wants to get the detail in the Iwo Jima pose, it’s really important to him.”
Thomas then shared his artistic vision as we joked that he might have a second career. “I might not wait until I am done playing football before I get started.”
Thomas and all the other players at this event really took to heart participating with the military members or their kids. Not all the players were required to attend, so these guys gave up excellent beach side and pool side time in Honolulu to spend a morning across the island, before heading back for the draft.
We’ll see you there next.
Below are a couple more photos from the event.
[photos via AP Photo, Marco Garcia on behalf of USAA]