The Saints could have just said that Michael Thomas’ ankle was still hurt and that was the reason he wasn’t playing on Monday Night Football.
Instead, they made sure to publicly embarrass him by saying they were essentially suspending him for conduct detrimental to the team. It was a clear message that they don’t need him and they can get rid of him whenever they want. The way NFL contracts are set up, teams plant these seeds just in case they don’t want to pay out the guarantees.
It wasn’t surprising to me that the day after the Saints came back to beat the Chargers that all of Thomas’ dirty laundry has been exposed via The Athletic.
Multiple sources said the suspension had less to do with Thomas’ role in a fight with teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson during practice on Saturday than it did his actions after the fracas. Thomas, they said, talked back to coaches, including Payton, and obstinately refused counsel afterward.
For a team that notoriously keeps its internal affairs under wraps, the transaction was a clear sign that they wanted this dirty laundry aired.
However, there’s a difference between competitiveness and boorishness. And too often Thomas’ behavior has crossed the line, earning him a reputation among Saints football operations and support staff that can best be described as “difficult.”
Sources said Thomas barked at team trainers for failing to tape his ankle properly and accused one administrative staffer of illegally going through his mail.
Thomas’ unpredictable, aloof personality has alienated members of the team’s public relations staff and led to social media snipes at opposing players and local reporters, frustrating the club’s brain trust.
They go on to say if Earl Thomas and Antonio Brown can be essentially blackballed from the NFL, so can Thomas.
It is a strong message the Saints are putting out there in the media. Thomas has been at the forefront of positive things like keeping Drew Brees’ career afloat (If not for he and Kamara, Brees would be the one out of the league) and being a stong voice for the Black Lives Matter movement.
With that being said the NFL is a dictatorship and stands for NOT FOR LONG. If they want to get you out there they will, so Thomas must tread carefully going forward.
Flip the page for more videos of some of the more positive aspects of Thomas.