Joe Thomas

ESPN 850 Cleveland host Tony Rizzo is mad at Cleveland Browns’ left tackle Joe Thomas…for having a podcast. Thomas has been doing a lot of media work this offseason, including writing a column for The MMQB, making appearances on various ESPN properties over the last few days, and hosting his own popular “ThomaHawk” podcast, and Rizzo doesn’t seem happy about that.

On last Thursday’s Really Big Show, co-host Aaron Goldhammer played a taped interview he’d recorded with Thomas at the Cleveland Sports Awards the night before, and Rizzo got upset that Thomas wasn’t able to do a live interview and started ranting about Thomas and how no one would care about him once he retired. This didn’t get wide buzz immediately, but Dan Le Batard’s producers dug it up and played it for Thomas during his appearance on ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz Wednesday. And it’s amazing.

Here’s the clip, which also includes discussion about Thomas channeling Barry Melrose with his mullet:

For those who don’t want to listen to the whole clip, Cleveland.com’s Hayden Grove tweeted the text of Rizzo’s rant:

Thomas’ response to this on Le Batard’s show was actually pretty restrained. “I do appreciate the two ThomaHawk drops there for me. It’s a big podcast, you know, No. 2 on iTunes, so I’ve really got to say thanks to Tony for being such a fan. And that’s a misconception about me, people think that they can kind of get under my skin or they think they can rile me up or get me upset by taking shots at me, but really it just makes me get a good laugh. And that’s kind of what I enjoy about the media.”

Le Batard then responds (laughing) with “That’s nice and that’s fun and that’s great, but you’re now in Rizzo’s world, Joe Thomas, and I don’t think you know what that means, and I don’t think you’re prepared for what he is going to rain down on that terrible haircut of yours.” Later, Stugotz asks “How much trepidation do you have about now entering Tony Rizzo’s world?”, and Thomas responds “I’m frightened. I hope they actually make a t-shirt that says something about Tony Rizzo’s World that I can wear on my award-winning ThomaHawk podcast. Because it seems like he really has something out for me, I’m not exactly sure why. But we’d love to have him on the ThomaHawk show so he can beef it up with me and tell me all the reasons why he’s such a big fan of the ThomaHawk show. …He’s really playing up that rivalry that’s not there.”

Thomas also later thanked Rizzo for the promotion in a tweet:

Oddly enough, former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky (who played for six teams, but not the Browns) also got involved here, chirping Grove for what he thought was Grove’s take rather than Grove’s transcription of Rizzo’s comments, and then apologizing:

Meanwhile, Rizzo got mad at Le Batard on air for playing the clip and laughing at him:

Update: Here’s a giant clip of Rizzo’s on-air comments about this, complaining about Le Batard using him as “free content.” “I’m too busy trying to do my own show!”

However, on Twitter, Rizzo responded in a gentler fashion:

This is far from the first controversy surrounding Rizzo. He was arrested on charges of domestic violence in 2013, eventually pleading no contest to charges of persistent disorderly content and being sentenced to 30 days in jail. In 2016, he vowed to fight and/or run over fans planning the 0-16 parade (which didn’t happen then, but did this year), and also confronted the parade organizer. Oh, and Le Batard was involved in stoking that controversy too. And in May, Rizzo and Goldhammer had contributor Sabrina Parr on their show, where she threw out accusations that Thomas and fellow Browns’ player Jabrill Peppers were on drugs (and later lost her job for that).

So there’s a whole lot of odd history here. But he’s a “made man,” you know, and has local radio success that Thomas (who already has landed a bunch of prominent national media exposure, in addition to his Pro Bowl and likely Hall of Fame NFL career) can only dream of.

[WKYC]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.