The Pittsburgh Steelers came into Sunday night’s AFC Wild Card game as a double-digit underdog to the Kansas City Chiefs. So it was hardly a surprise that they lost big—42-21, to be exact. After they did, former Cleveland Browns All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas facetiously congratulated the Steelers on their “playoff participation trophy,” a quip that didn’t sit well with former Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel, who was quick to ask: “Did you ever get one of those? No.”
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Of course, Keisel is referencing the fact that Thomas never had the opportunity to play in a postseason game during his 11 seasons with the Browns (2007-17), much less enjoy a playoff victory. Heck, during Thomas’ last three seasons in Cleveland, the Browns went 4-44, including a winless season in 2017.
Meanwhile, Keisel won two Super Bowl rings and went to three Super Bowls during his 13-year NFL career, which got underway in 2002, when the Steelers made him a seventh-round pick out of Brigham Young. From then through 2014, Keisel played in 156 games for the Steelers (114 starts), and was credited with 408 tackles (253 solo), with 30 sacks, 33 tackles for loss, 53 quarterback hits, seven forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries.
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Joe Thomas is a Future Hall of Famer
The fact that the Browns never experienced anything approaching success while he was on the team doesn’t diminish Thomas’ individual accomplishments. The Browns selected Thomas No. 3 overall in the 2007 NFL Draft out of Wisconsin and he immediately won the team’s left tackle job, which he held—without fail—for the next decade.
In fact, Thomas made the Pro Bowl the first 10 seasons of his career, earning first-team All-Pro honors six times during that period. More notably, he was the NFL’s ultimate iron man, as he didn’t miss a single snap in his career until he tore his triceps on October 22, 2017, which turned out to be a career-ending injury, as he retired after the 2017 season. According to Fox Sports, “his streak of 10,363 consecutive plays is believed to be the longest run in pro football history.”
Brett Keisel’s Career Also Ended After a Torn Triceps Injury
Notably, Brett Keisel’s Steelers career came to an end after he suffered a torn triceps of his own—against the New Orleans Saints on November 30, 2014.
The Steelers released Keisel three-and-a-half months later and he retired in June 2015.
Perhaps the two former combatants can reconcile their differences by commiserating about that shared experience.
If nothing else, Keisel figures to remain vigilant about responding to slights from Pittsburgh’s AFC North rivals. In November 2020, after the Bengals’ official Twitter account tweeted a 2005 clip of former Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh using a Terrible Towel to ‘shine’ his cleats, Keisel made sure to remind the Bengals how their 2005 season ended—with a playoff loss to the Steelers that was the first step on Pittsburgh’s road to winning Super Bowl XL in Detroit.
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