Miami Dolphins legend Zach Thomas inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

CANTON, Ohio – The wait is over and former Miami Dolphins star linebacker Zach Thomas is officially a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, Thomas was inducted by former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Jimmy Johnson, who drafted and later coached him for four seasons from 1996 to 1999.

“Of all 17 current Hall of Famer players I’ve ever coached, Zach Thomas was the hardest-working player. The guy never missed a tackle. I love him and it’s hard to find a player and person more deserving,” said Johnson.

Thomas became the first-ever Texas Tech Red Raider to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He called his selection a “dream come true” and thanked his former coaches and teammates that included Tim Bowens, Sam Madison, Patrick Surtain, Dan Marino and Jason Taylor, who he called the “best player he’s ever had the chance of playing next to.”

During his speech, Thomas gave praise to his fans that helped motivate him on game day.

“When I looked up into the stands and saw people wearing the 54 in the stands, I just wanted to make you proud,” he said.

Thomas also said he “still has love” for fans that supported the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, even if they threw stuff and heckled him on game day.

Thomas was the first speaker of his 2023 Hall of Fame class which included Ken Riley, DeMarcus Ware, Joe Klecko, Chuck Howley, Darrell Revis, Ronde Barber, Joe Thomas, and the late Don Coryell.

Thomas, a fifth-round draft pick from Texas Tech, didn’t fit the size description of your typical NFL linebacker. At 5-foot-11 and 228 pounds, Thomas was undersized and often overlooked.

According to Thomas’ biography, he was barely scouted out of high school and originally recruited out of Texas Tech to play special teams for the Dolphins.

Miami selected him with the 154th pick in the 1996 NFL draft — the 19th linebacker taken in a class that also includes NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis.

Thomas spent the rest of his 13-season NFL career running through blocks, and doubt, en route to seven Pro Bowls, five All-Pro selections and the fifth-most tackles (1,734) in NFL history.

Congrats to Number 54 and his newest induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Viewers are encouraged to leave their favorite Zach Thomas memory in the comment section below.

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Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.

Will Manso came back home to South Florida when he joined Local 10 in March of 1999. During his time here, Will has kept busy by working in sports, news and he's even dabbled in entertainment. He is now Local 10's sports director and also enjoys the chance to serve as host for special shows on Local 10.