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Joe Thomas enjoyed watching Roger Goodell scurry 'off the stage like a rat' after SB51

By Mary Kay Cabot • Feb 9, 2017 at 7:30 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Browns outspoken left tackle Joe Thomas was looking forward to watching Roger Goodell squirm if Tom Brady won the Super Bowl 51 and MVP.

And when it actually went down, the awkward exchanges and boos during the trophy ceremony didn't disappoint Thomas, a vocal critic of Deflategate.

"I especially enjoyed how over-eager Roger was to smile at all the Patriots and give them a big handshake, but then as soon as he gave them the trophy he scurried off the stage like a rat," Thomas told Pro Football Talk Live Thursday morning. "It was awesome."

Four days before the Super Bowl, Thomas, who spent the week in Houston, told cleveland.com that he wanted his good friend Alex Mack to win a Super bowl with the Falcons, but that was looking for justice for Brady, who was suspended the first four games of the season.

"I can find happiness in both situations," he said. "Of course I'd love to see Alex win a Super Bowl, but I'd certainly I'd love the situation if Goodell, Brady and Mr. Kraft were all on the stage together, so I'm not going to show my cards on (which one I'd like best)."

Thomas, who watched is ironman friend play Super Bowl 51 on the re-broken fibula, wasn't jealous that Mack landed in the biggest game of the year after signing with the Falcons in are agency.

"I'm not a jealous person and I don't really ever think about what could've been or what maybe could've been, stuff like that," Thomas said. "I live in the moment and I don't ever regret trying to be part of the turnaround in Cleveland and my goal is still to turn this team around before my career is over and so I still think I have a chance to do that. I'm hopeful I get to the Super Bowl before I'm done playing and I think it's a realistic opportunity still."

Mack, who remains close to Thomas, admires his loyalty to the Browns.

"Joe's commitment to Cleveland is commendable," he said. "His dream is alive to be part of that turnaround."

He said the Browns didn't seem genuinely interested in keeping him. Ultimately, he signed a five-year, $45 million deal with the Falcons, including $28.5 million guaranteed.

"I'm not sure if there were any proposals even traded to be honest," he said. "I don't think either side was interested."

Thomas believes Mack, a 2017 Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro, would've stayed if the money were right.

"I'd say if they would've beaten Atlanta's offer he would've stayed, but I think the disinterest was mutual at that point and I think the Browns weren't willing to pay a center what Atlanta was," he said. "So it kind of became a moot point and I don't think they were going to waste each other's time even negotiating."

Mack told cleveland.com that the Browns "were definitely in the mix when I became a free agent. It was 'do I want to stay here or do I want to see what else is out there.' I had the opportunity to talk to a couple of teams, but the Falcons put together a really tempting offer the I couldn't refuse."

Would he have stayed if they had beaten the offer?

"The Falcons did a good job of having the combination of an established quarterback, an offense I knew I could be successful in, and the numbers worked out as well," he said. "I was excited to give it a chance out here."

While Mack helped the Falcons become the No. 1 offense in the NFL, Browns second-year center Cam Erving struggled at times and ultimately moved to right tackle, where he'll likely get another look next season. The Browns, who started rookie Anthony Fabiano at center in the season finale and have Austin Reiter coming off a torn ACL, will continue to look for their center. Whoever it is, he'll have a tough act to follow.

"Alex is the best center in the NFL," Thomas said. "He's the most technically sound center in the NFL. And he's one of the biggest and strongest, so a lot of the centers you see today are kind of smaller, undersized guys that are smart players that they throw at center because in a lot of schemes the center gets a double-team on every play and really doesn't ever have to block a big guy one-on-one.

"But Alex is one of those rare centers who's big and strong to go along with the quick and fast. He plays hard and smart and all of those other things. But he's able to have those blocks that a lot of guys can't handle."

Still, he was happy for Mack's success after all the losing seasons in Cleveland.

"I know he was suffering a long time with us and he didn't even have the great first season that I did," said Thomas. "For him to finally be able to taste that success is great."

But he may have loved Goodell's cool post-game reception even more.

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