The Miami Dolphins have neutralized what seemingly had developed into a bitter relationship Thursday, signing seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Thomas to a contract so that he could announce his retirement in aqua and orange.
"I want to thank the Dolphins for allowing me to come back and finish my career with the team," Thomas said. "I have some great memories of the coaches, teammates and fans and I want to thank all of them for making my stay in Miami so memorable."
Thomas felt Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland was being disrespectful to Dolphins tradition. Thomas also relayed a story about how the Dolphins refused to let him have a farewell news conference at the team's facility when he was released after the 2007 season.
"You've got to respect players that have been good to the game," Thomas said at the time. "I don't like the organization to look bad that way."
But the Dolphins took a positive step in the other direction by bringing him back after a season with the Dallas Cowboys and a failed attempt to continue his career with the Kansas City Chiefs last year.
"As a long time fan of the Dolphins I know what Zach Thomas has meant to this franchise, both the contributions he made on the field and the leadership he provided off the field," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. "No obstacle was too tough for Zach to overcome, from joining the team as an unheralded fifth-round draft choice in 1996 to doubts about him being too slow or too small to make it in the league.
"Zach persevered by combining his intelligence, his dedication to the game, and his abilities to become one of the greatest players in Dolphin history."