NFL: Joe Thomas suffering memory loss, ready for consequences

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Joe Thomas
Kansas City Chiefs kick returner Javier Arenas (21) is taken down by Cleveland Browns Thomas Jones (20) and Joe Haden (23) during the second quarter of their NFL football game in Cleveland, Ohio. Reuters/ Aaron Josefczyk

Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas is only 32 but his age does not exempt him from potential effects that come with his NFL career. There are about 5,000 former NFL players who have cited damage to their brains from playing pro football and the former third overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft could be joining that list soon. 

Speaking on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger,” Thomas revealed he was suffering short-term memory loss but was unsure how it came about. He singles out age as a possible reason behind it or perhaps from the bumps he has endured from playing football.

Thomas is entering his 11th season with the Cleveland Browns and has never missed a beat. Even so, he is aware of the risk involved but is ready to face the consequences should the short-term memory loss be tied up to long-term brain damage. 

"To be able to live the lifestyle and provide for my family the way that football has been able to do, to me it's a trade-off that I'm willing to accept."

Researchers have tried to figure out the degenerative brain disease better known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). It stems from repeated blows to the head, one reason why playing football has garnered plenty of backlash. Considering Thomas plays lineman on both sides of the ball, the obvious risk is there for the 32-year-old, the Bleacher Report reports.

Right now, it remains unclear if Thomas’ revelation would sound off an alarm to the Cleveland Browns. The team already has enough on its plate as it tries to move out of its unfortunate circle of futility. All that starts soon with the 2017 NFL Draft. 

The Browns are selecting first and there is no certainty yet on who they will make this year’s top pick. Myles Garrett of Texas A&M is the hands-down choice, considered the best player available. But as most know, there is the quarterback issue that Cleveland has to address. 

Mitchell Trubisky is believed to be in the Browns wish list but Cleveland’s chances of getting him with the 12th pick do not look so good with other teams also prowling the 2017 NFL Draft for play callers. That includes the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets. 

An NFL trade could make sense for the Browns to move up. The Tennessee Titans could be a target, seeing they are expected to target a defensive end. Compared to a quarterback, there draft comes with plenty of players playing the defensive end position. The Browns have reportedly been talking to three teams in the top eight for the draft so something could happen, according to NFL.com.