- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 2, 2003

The moment Randy Thomas arrived at Redskin Park on Friday after flying into town on owner Dan Snyder's private jet, the free agent knew he was standing in his new home.
"I just felt the vibe," Thomas said yesterday while being introduced as the Washington Redskins' new starting right guard. "This is the place, man."
One of the most coveted unrestricted free agents on the market, the former New York Jet had planned to visit six clubs after meeting with the Redskins.
Snyder and his top personnel men, though, had no intention of letting Thomas make it to those other meetings. By the time he left the building Friday night, the 27-year-old had agreed in principle to a mammoth, four-year, $28million contract with a $7million signing bonus.
The Redskins' fullcourt press approach in their negotiations with Thomas was by design.
"Our motto was 'Identify and Attack,'" director of player personnel Vinny Cerrato said. "We identified what we wanted, and then we went out and got it. If you want the elite guys when they're out there, go get them right away. If you sit back and wait, you're not going to get the Randy Thomases."
By all accounts, Thomas is in the elite category among NFL guards, a position that doesn't often get recognition. Perhaps Thomas will get his due now. A $28million contract has a way of doing that.
"I'll tell you what they made the right deal," he said. "I didn't have to go anywhere else. [Snyder] set the table. He put it on there and said we've got to do this. To hear someone commit to me like that, it just emotionally hit me."
That's no surprise because his two biggest passions clearly are football and food.
At 6-foot-5 and 301 pounds, Thomas is not overly huge for an NFL lineman. But on the field, he plays beyond his size, establishing himself the last four years as an intimidating blocker and as a leader who won't settle for anything less than the best from his teammates.
"That's my attitude," he said. "Some people are not going to like it. But I've got to keep my job, and people around me have to do their job to make me better. That's my commitment to this organization."
Despite his relatively young age, Thomas was a leader in the Jets' locker room last season and was one of several players who helped spur that club's dramatic turnaround from a 2-5 start to the AFC East title and a first-round playoff blowout of the Indianapolis Colts. He sees no reason why that same attitude can't be instilled at Redskin Park.
"We need to get these guys going on offense, and I think I can play some part in it," he said. "You're going to see a guy who's very dedicated to his job, to his team, and is dedicated to winning."
Off the field, Thomas is dedicated to his fork and knife; the man can devour meals with the best of them.
Legends of his culinary conquests date back to his days at Mississippi State, when rumor has it he was kicked out of an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant because he apparently took the promotion literally. And his Jets teammates once saw him knock down 17 lobster tails in one sitting before a waiter politely asked him to leave.
Thomas' favorite foods include fried pork chops, chicken wings, barbecued ribs and macaroni and cheese. After retiring from football, he hopes to open a restaurant. So it should come as little surprise that when he phoned Jon Jansen (his new teammate on the right side of Washington's offensive line) on Friday night, Thomas did so from the table of a restaurant.
"I called Jansen last night while I was eating my lobster tail," he said. "I had a mouthful, so he may not have been able to understand me."
If Thomas becomes a mainstay alongside Jansen on the Redskins' offensive line, it's safe to say his poor table manners will be forgiven.

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