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Joe Thomas Says College Athletes Should Be Able to Profit off Their Likenesses

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 24:  Joe Thomas #73 of the Cleveland Browns jogs off the field during a game against the San Diego Chargers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Browns defeated the Chargers 20-17.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas believes college athletes should have the opportunity to profit from their likenesses.

"I'm not a proponent of paying college athletes, but they should be able to make money on their own likeness/autographs/endorsements," he tweeted Tuesday.

Thomas' comments came after he tweeted a link to Bleacher Report story that highlighted the record viewership for Saturday's game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State:

Joe Thomas @joethomas73

And the players raked in... $10! Let's not wonder why college players r leaving at all time high rate.😂😂 @JayBilas https://t.co/D1cAmMvbol

According to a news release from ESPN, more than 12.5 million people tuned in to the highly anticipated clash between the powerhouse programs. It was the most watched kickoff weekend game ever.

Thomas went back and forth with people on his Twitter page for an extended stretch Tuesday. He said he wasn't advocating for college athletes to get paid directly but rather through "real-world" money that would come in from such sources as endorsements.

It is a common debate and one that's especially popular during college football season, when marquee programs such as Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and others routinely attract hundreds of thousands of people to their stadiums for games, gift shops sell players' jerseys and other memorabilia and millions of fans watch on television.

As for Saturday's contest between the Crimson Tide and Seminoles that sparked Thomas' conversations, the ESPN news release noted the television audience was larger than 14.1 million viewers at one point.

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