PHILADELPHIA - Former Eagles tackle Tra Thomas was unable to keep his promise Thursday.
The three-time Pro Bowler was less than five minutes into his speech during his official retirement ceremony at the NovaCare Complex before tears started to stream down his cheeks and he began to sob.
"I promised myself I wouldn't do this," Thomas said. "I told myself I wouldn't cry."
He couldn't help himself. Although Thomas' 11-year tenure with the Eagles ended after the 2008 season - he signed with Jacksonville as a free agent soon after the Eagles traded for Jason Peters - he always knew that when he ever decided to leave the game for good that he would do so as a member of the team that gave him his start.
The Eagles celebrated his career through a two-minute video that played on the giant screen inside the auditorium at the NovaCare Complex. They also presented Thomas with a framed jersey and a commemorative football that said, "Tra Thomas, Forever an Eagle."
"The happiest day of my NFL career was coming here," Thomas said. "And the saddest day was when I had to leave. Being a Philadelphia Eagle was all I ever wanted to do and I'm thankful I had that opportunity. I always knew that when the day would come that I would have to retire, I would be doing it right here."
Thomas, 37, became the second former Eagle to retire with the team this year, joining safety Brian Dawkins, who spent 13 of his 16 NFL seasons (1996-2008) with the Eagles. Other players who have been so honored during owner Jeffrey Lurie's tenure include running back Keith Byars (2000), linebacker Seth Joyner (2000), quarterback Randall Cunningham (2002) and defensive end Clyde Simmons (2004).
EXTRA POINTS: Because the Eagles have to play two preseason games in five days, coach Andy Reid announced that his starters will see their most action of the preseason on Monday at New England rather than Friday at Cleveland. Quarterback Michael Vick said he expects to play into the third quarter. ... Defensive end Trent Cole will make his preseason debut after missing the opener with a strained shoulder. ... Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha returned to practice Thursday after suffering a neck injury and lip laceration on Monday. ... Linebacker Casey Matthews (high ankle sprain) was added to the injury list, joining defensive end Jason Babin (strained calf), wide receiver Riley Cooper (broken collarbone), quarterback Mike Kafka (broken hand) and defensive tackle Mike Patterson (offseason brain surgery).