Sixteen years ago, the Miami Dolphins took a fifth-round flyer on an undersized linebacker from Texas Tech named Zach Thomas. Despite being a two-time Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year, the Pampa, TX, native was not highly thought of as a pro prospect.
But Thomas rewarded the Dolphins for their faith with seven NFL Pro Bowl seasons. Teaming with Jason Taylor, who was drafted the year after Thomas was, Thomas formed a rock-solid Miami defense that gave the franchise an identity in its post-Dan Marino years.
On October 14, the Dolphins honored Thomas and Taylor by inducting them into the team’s Ring of Honor. The accolade came two-and-a-half years after Thomas officially retired as a player.
Since then, Thomas has tried to keep his distance from the game in order to better transition into family life with his wife Maritza and their two children, Christian and Valentina. He resides in nearby Fort Lauderdale, FL.
“It’s addicting,” Thomas said prior to the Ring of Honor induction ceremony. “You get out on the field, you feel like a gladiator. I miss that.”
Thomas’ alma mater hosts Texas Tech this Saturday. Zach Thomas profile