I was picking pumpkins with my family the day Joe Thomas was injured and had to come out of the game. To that point, Thomas had played an NFL record 10,363 consecutive snaps over 11 years at left tackle for my sad-sack Cleveland Browns.

And I was picking pumpkins because the days of appointment-watching the Cleveland Browns went away years ago as the losses mounted up. Chances are, even if you don’t follow football, you know the Browns have been an awful franchise.

But Thomas was a beacon of light for this organization that has experienced many, many, many, many, many rainy days.

That injury not only ended Thomas’ streak, but ended his season and his career as he recently retired. A guy who never missed a snap had to retire after the first one he missed. There were other injuries that factored into his decision, but this was the one that made it official.

A lot of those snaps were played in games where Thomas’ teammates didn’t hold up their end of the bargain and the Browns were being blown out.

But during some interviews he gave after the announcement, Thomas started unveiling things that caught me by surprise. He talked about the inability to tie his shoes or get out of bed, or how he needed pain pills immediately after games to be able to stand up during press conferences.

The squeaky wheel shouldn’t always be the one to get the grease.

It caught me off guard because when he wasn’t on the field, he was always seen smiling, and he looked perfectly healthy.

It got me thinking what if Thomas wasn’t paid millions and couldn’t retire after 11 years and live comfortably? What if he had to force himself out of bed every morning to work at a physically demanding job just to put food on the table?

As your employees are working their way through the season, think about all the Joe Thomas-types on your payroll (and that could be the owner as well) who are fighting through the aches and pains of physical labor to provide the best service to your customers, and aren’t complaining about it. The squeaky wheel shouldn’t always be the one to get the grease.

Whether it’s the exhaustion caused by mowing in the heat or the aches and pains from installing a nice patio, the wear and tear adds up, and it should be acknowledged and appreciated. – Brian Horn