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Former OT Tra Thomas Retirement

Opening Remarks: "You always get a little emotional when you start seeing your highlight reel and things start going on and you just feel like you have so much emotion. You get to see your work; you get a little misty just watching that. First of all, I just wanted to just thank God for just giving me this opportunity to be here right now. I wanted to also thank [Chairman/CEO) Mr. [Jeffrey) Lurie for just taking a chance on me just coming out of college back in 1998. I wasn't like a lot of the other college players. I started off as a defensive end, was recruited as a defensive end; I switched over to the offensive line so it was a position I really had to learn so I really didn't have many starts under my belt coming into my last year. I only had one full season of starting, so, you know, I really thank the organization for just taking a chance on me back then in '98 and making me a first-round draft pick.

"Secondly, I want to just thank Coach [Andy) Reid for just always being there and being like a second father-figure to me. I said I wasn't going to be like this coming up here. I thought I was going to be able to hold myself together, but Coach Reid always was there throughout a lot of my own personal situations, coming up, just playing the game and just living through life and I just think that [he) just made such a great example of what it takes to be a father, to be a husband and to even being a professional in this game. You know, me and [former Eagles QB Donovan) McNabb used to joke all the time because when we would have our post-meetings all the time, Coach Reid would call us in and he would always give us this speech about Reggie White and Brett Favre. Do you remember you used to call us in all the time and we would get all these speeches? I'm like, 'Man, here we go. Coach Reid is about to talk to us again about Reggie White and Brett Favre.' And it was always the same story. It wasn't until when I was just thinking about, with me retiring, that that all came together; what you were really trying to do and what he was teaching us was how to be a professional and how to carry yourself from being a talented athlete in college and how to put the work into this game to make yourself a legacy and make yourself a legend. And I think that's what you were really trying to put into us and I really appreciate that.

"Thirdly, you know, I just have to thank the greatest position coach I've ever had in [former offensive line coach and current defensive coordinator) Juan Castillo. This was a city that I originally wanted to play for just right out of the gate as soon as I got off the plane and I stepped out on that field. I came to visit Philadelphia and it was probably about six or seven o'clock in the evening; Juan met me, when we were at the Vet at the time, Juan took me straight from the plane and we went out on the Vet field and we started doing pass-sets and doing vertical-sets and I knew that, you know what, this is the city that I need to play for, this is the coach that I need to have and I just thank you Juan for all the years that you put into me, all the work that we did, holding me accountable, making sure that you could coach me at any level. You could push me, you could challenge me and I just thank you for everything that you've done in my life. The reason I opened 7 Deuce Sports, the facility that I own now, is because of what you put in me and because of the technique that you taught me, that's the reason why I opened my facility, based off of what you had done and what you bought in me and I just feel like, from what I've been taught, it should be shared with others and that was the main reason for me even opening my own business.

"This organization has done so much for me and my family and just what we're doing just [on) and off the field. I have to thank, of course, my beautiful wife and my kids. You know, I sit back and I look at my kids and I see how much they've grown and the things that they've done and I know that it's my wife that teaches them everything that they're doing. You know, with me being in football and always being on the go and on the run, you know it's your wife that holds you down, that's always there supporting and making sure that the house is taken care of and making sure that the kids are being taught what they're supposed to be taught and just making sure that she's supporting every dream that I have and just sticking through all the emotional ups and downs of being an athlete. Just dealing with me when I'm trying to find that balance of being a gladiator on the field and then still trying to come home and be the husband and father that I need to be. I just thank you for just going through this road with me. I know that I wouldn't have been able to make these years without you and I just thank you for always being there for me. I thank my family for supporting me; my parents. I thank my pastors for always being there for me and just praying for me and keeping me lifted up. And I just thank you kids; my boys. These are two of my boys here, Tristan and Jake, and my oldest one; he's in Florida right now. He's in football camp so he wasn't able to get away, but I just thank my boys even just for understanding that daddy is daddy and just being there and just encouraging and understanding that, okay, he might have a little limp today but he'll be alright tomorrow and we just want to play and just be kids. I just thank my family.

"I just thank the fans also. I think the Philadelphia fan base is the number one fan base in the world and I just really was charged by that. I tell everybody that the happiest day of my football career was being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. The saddest day was when I left; when I had to leave. That has been erased by this right here; being able to retire a Philadelphia Eagle. This is something that I've always wanted. All I've ever wanted to be is a Philadelphia Eagle and that's all I ever wanted to do and to be able to retire as a Philadelphia Eagle just means so much to me and my family. I just thank you guys for all that you've done and just supporting me along the way. I'm letting you know now that, Coach [Reid), in whatever capacity that I can, I want to come in and help this organization any way I can. Wherever you feel that I could serve within this organization, I'm here for you. You just let me know where I need to be and what time I need to be there and I'll be there. I'll give you guys whatever I can. I want to help this organization get the championship that they deserve. I think this organization is second-to-none. This is a top-notch organization. I love this organization and I'll be able to do whatever I can to help this organization in every way that I can.

"That's pretty much it. I have no other words. I've cried it all out. I think I've said it all. My [family) has been supporting me. My brother-in-law Earl is here and I just thank you guys for always being there and not being too hard on me, especially media guys. But just thank you guys for just coming out and even allowing me to do this."

On the physical toll of his career and what he deals with today as a result of that: "As far as the things that I deal with now, is just with me have backing surgery. My back is tight from time-to-time. My knees are sore from time-to-time, but there's nothing really that's too bad. I think my back is throwing off my golf swing a little bit, so I may have to keep working on that. I keep having to get stretched out, but other than that, it's nothing that's too bad."

On the changes he has seen in the organization from his rookie year until now: "How did the organization change? You know, as a player, you just come in and you just stay focused on what's going on out on the field. That's one of the things that Coach Reid was always great about is just focus on what you have to do on the field. I really didn't pay attention to what was going on outside of what we had to do with our job. I was so focused in on the technique that we had to work or the plays that we had going on so that was my main focus on what we had to do; [it) was just getting prepared for each game."

On what it was like in the organization when Reid was first brought in as head coach: "It was tough. Because Coach Reid came in, you know with [former Eagles head coach) Ray Rhodes, coming from Florida State and dealing with Coach [Bobby) Bowden and you come to Ray Rhodes and he's coming with these off-the-wall pregame speeches where it's just, you know, he'd have to send everybody out of the room [and tell) some wild, ridiculous story that gets everybody all fired up. It was just a different atmosphere. It was real relaxed; everybody was, 'Hey, what are we going to do today? We just lost. Alright, don't worry about it. Let's go party.' But then Coach Reid comes in and changes all that and everything is like, [a) whole new rule system with a lot discipline; making everybody accountable, which was really needed. We really needed that because I think the team was a little too loose back then. But Coach Reid came in, he saw something that needed to be changed and he did it and I think that really turned this organization around. It did."

On whether he respected the change in organizational attitude right away: "Oh, right off the bat. You knew that you had to straighten up and training camp was the worst I've ever been [to). I think [Coach Reid's) first year, the grass was brown, it was 150 degrees out there. It was hot; everybody was falling out. What, a week of two-a-days? It was just grueling but it was needed. It was really needed."

On the emotions of not playing anymore and the transition into life after football: "It's been good to just kind of step back and get away from the game a little bit. You know, [I'm) just going on my third season of not playing. What I miss the most is right before the game when we'd be out in the middle of the field, bouncing around. Just the camaraderie of just being around everybody; just getting yourself prepared to go to battle. Someone was messing with me [saying), 'Don't get up there and cry.' But I was like, football is just such an emotional game and you bring so much to it. It's not something that you just wake up and just do. It's something that you have to be tied into and just, physically and mentally, be all in. I do miss just being around everybody and the camaraderie of being in the locker room. But it's been good."

On when he realized he wouldn't be able to play with his son professionally: "When I left here. I think leaving from here and going to another team really prepared me to start retiring and then the game just wasn't the same for me. After I left here, just the fan base that was in Jacksonville, just the whole [situation), it just wasn't the same. It was just time to let it go and just start focusing on something else and that's what we did. We went to Jacksonville and got ready to retire."

On how close he remains to several of his former teammates from Philadelphia: "We remain very close. We talk to each other, [are) always texting each other, calling each other just to stay in touch. Whenever someone has an event or something, we always go out and show support and just try to keep up with everybody. You see [former Eagles LB Jeremiah Trotter) from time-to-time. You know [former Eagles LB) Ike [Reese), [former Eagles DE) Hugh [Douglas) and all these guys are always around. I'm always talking to Hugh because his son and my son are like a year apart so they're always around each other. So we always keep the lines of communication open."

On the relationship between the former players: "I think we all are pretty close. I think we're a pretty close group because we did a lot together; we went through a lot together. To do the things that we did with this organization, you had to form some type of bond and I think that's something that's going to always be strong and always be good between us."

On whether there is one game or one moment from his career that stands out to him: "I think the one game that really sticks out to me would probably be my rookie year when I played against [former Kansas City Chiefs DE) Derrick Thomas because he was one of the first big-name pass rushers that I had to go against. I mean, he had already set the sack record. So, he was one of those guys that was going to either define you or tear you down and that was after one of Ray Rhodes' crazy speeches and I went out there and just went after it and shut him down. Zero tackles and zero sacks. He was just out there on the field. I think that was just one of the games that really sticks out. Back then, I used to talk a lot of trash, so I was all in his huddle, chasing after him, talking trash and [former Eagles QB) Rodney Peete starting talking to me like I was some type of kid; told me to get back in the huddle. I think that was one of the games that really just stuck out to me other than, you know, just making it to the Super Bowl."

On what his transition has been like from football to life outside and his current endeavors: "Well, I just started out with my facility. For me, I think that just creating something, after being in here and playing football for so long and used to being in the locker room and just the atmosphere that comes with being around the team, you need to, for me, I knew I needed to be in something that would allow me to continue to be that way where I could just walk around and yell random stuff and it's not frowned upon. I was the guy walking around here with an old-school, leather Eagles helmet, going into meetings and just slapping cookies out of people's hands; doing stuff like that. So, for after football, I needed to do something that's going to continue to allow me to do that, so I started my training facility. Then I did the broadcasting for a little bit, but I think my true passion and because of what I've been accustomed to just working with Juan and working under Coach Reid is that my true passion is that I was going to be coaching at some point."

On whether there was one opponent he respected more than others on the field: "I respect all of them. There were so many great guys that I've gone to battle against and there's too many to even name. All those guys, I respect their game. [Former Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins DE) Bruce Smith was one of the guys that really talked to me a lot after we played, which was big with the career that he had that he would always, after a game, talk to me about [things), give me some pointers on different stuff or talk to me about also how to be a professional and how to just respect the game, even though at the time, I thought he was just trying to calm me down so he could beat me for a sack. But he was really trying to, you know, help me out a little bit."

On whether he can picture himself on the sidelines, coaching: "Oh, definitely. Definitely. That's something that I've already talked to them about. That's definitely something that I'm looking forward to getting into."

On whether the NFC Championship win over Atlanta following the 2004 season was his career highlight: "That was good. That was real big, beating those guys. But, you know, I don't remember games like that. Like, it was huge to get that and to go into the Super Bowl, but I don't remember games like that. I remember certain moments, but I've always been trained to kind of always forget the last play and just keep focusing on the next one. My wife could tell you; I'll sit around and people will be like, 'Hey, do you remember that play, when it was third down and it was the fourth quarter,' and I'm like, I forgot. But that's just how you have to be as an offensive lineman.  You can't always think about what just happened. You have to always keep focusing on the next play."

On the Eagles current left tackle situation: "They'll be alright."

On whether he modeled his game after anyone in college or in the NFL: "Well, no, because other than [former Florida State and Seattle Seahawks T) Walter Jones, that was pretty much [it). It was me and Walter Jones. Other than that, we had a couple of other guys that stood out. But Walter Jones played a different type of game. Juan taught me how to play this game, taught me the sets and all I did was try to emulate whatever Juan was teaching me how to do; work the vertical sets, when to punch, when to let my hands go, when to turn and run, how to set down on the bull-rush. Because of the way Juan was teaching, that changed the way a lot of the offensive lines started working, so people started emulating us. But that's what people were coming out of Florida State, it was only me and Walter Jones that stepped out of there."

On whether he was the person in the locker room showing other people how to act professionally: "We handled ourselves. I don't think that we were the bullies of the locker room. I think that everybody just came out; we just tried to be professionals and just tried to lead by example and just tried to get out there on the field and do whatever work that needed to be done. We always had a great group of guys around us. Even from all the linemen that we've always had, we were always just out there putting in work and just doing whatever we needed to do to get better. One of the things that we always just tried to do was just make sure that if Juan needed us out there, we were going to be there. It was always great to have your veterans out there also with the young guys just to lead by example."

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