Time to face up to a tough question. Should Zach Thomas hang up his over-sized helmet and call it a career?
Former Herald beat-writer Alex Marvez thinks so.
Thomas missed last Sunday's 31-28 loss to the New York Jets after suffering what is classified as a minor concussion from the previous game against Dallas. Dolphins coach Cam Cameron sounds optimistic that Thomas will receive clearance to play in Sunday's matchup against Oakland.
Still, maybe Thomas shouldn't return — ever — even if he passes a litany of tests.
Commendably, Thomas was always candid and insightful during my eight seasons as a Dolphins beat reporter. But his eyes were sometimes glazed and speech slower in the aftermath of a major head blow.
It's a tough question, no doubt. Zach is 34 years old and he's played his career at full throttle -- every down, every play, going after every player like a heat-seeking missile. And concussions are serious business. But as good as Channing Crowder (apparently) was last week, playing in Thomas' slot, it was pretty damn obvious Zach was missed. I'd hate to see Zach walk away. I'd hate to see my Dolphins devoid of yet another face-of-the-franchise-who-retires-without-a-ring. But I'd be equally upset about seeing Zach, 7 to 10 years from now, drooling at the side of his mouth and greeting every one he sees with a "Hello Betty!" That would be far worse. And the Dolphins' all-time leading tackler has enough money to buy the Dolphins (hey, wait a minute!), so it's not like he needs to keep playing to pay the bills or put his kids through college.
Still, no one takes care of himself better than Thomas. And he's not stupid. He knows the deal and I think he knows that when his body -- or in this case, his brain -- tells him to quit, he'll listen and obey. Plus, the guy doesn't play for Bill Belichick, who makes dudes play with partial brain-damage because, fuck you, I'm the Homeless Genius and I have 158 rings and sleep with married women so you'll do what I say and like it! Zach is a physical specimen and treats himself as such by taking extra care of himself and his body.
As an undersized 1996 fifth-round draft choice, Thomas has always sought an edge in physical and mental preparation. He purchased a hyperbaric chamber for accelerated healing from injuries and had blood analysis done to design an optimal diet for athletic performance. Plus, no Dolphins player spends more time analyzing game film.
In a related story, yesterday I had one of those Jimmy Dean chocolate chip cookie dough pancakes wrapped around a sausage for breakfast and two Double Bacon Whopper with cheese meals and fries for lunch. For dinner, tacos! But I had a Diet Coke, so it was all balanced out.