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The Rookies

Cleveland Browns first-round draft picks and buddies Brady Quinn and Joe Thomas talk to us about being roommates, losing locks and bringing a championship to Cleveland.
Joe Thomas is the MVP of Catch Phrase.

He wants you to know this. He’s proud of his party-game aptitude — a Pro Bowl ability with gestures, charades and clues. He lets out a deep, booming laugh as he repeats it: “MVP of Catch Phrase.” He even makes me write it down, though I’m recording the whole conversation with three different tape recorders. On top of that, he says he’s considering a run for president of his homeowners association.

That’s Thomas, your average rather-be-fishing-than-in-NYC Joe. He also just happens to be one of this year’s most talked about NFL rookies. Yet, you’d likely walk right past him without realizing it.

This is the case on a mid-November Tuesday evening at Blake’s Seafood Restaurant & Bar in Crocker Park. It’s supposed to be a slow night. But news that Brady Quinn and Joe Thomas would be eating dinner here tonight while doing an interview and a photo shoot has apparently leaked. The bar is packed.

Thomas arrives first, parking in a lot across the street and carrying a shirt on a hanger. He doesn’t notice all the people, and they don’t notice him either.

“I wasn’t sure what to wear,” he says, looking at me for some fashion guidance. As Thomas ponders the gray T-shirt he’s wearing versus the striped button-down in his hand, a black Hummer flashes by the windows and then stops at the valet. Brady Quinn enters — taller and slimmer than you’d expect and even more good looking in person if that’s possible. His brown eyes squint slightly as he smiles, his short hair tousled perfectly.

Check back Jan. 1 for our entire Q&A with Brady Quinn and Joe Thomas and to meet our other Most Interesting People of 2008.

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