All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas seems to have accepted last season's underwhelming performance.
On Monday, Thomas posted this message on Instagram:
"I can honestly say I deserved every L I took. I got too comfortable with a lot of things and people. It all backfired on me, BUT I’m back at it now, and it’s all understood."
Another former OSU Buckeye and current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins re-posted the same message from Thomas on his Instagram account. The social message is not a new one. The earliest record I located was in a tweet posted in 2019. Nevertheless, what's the meaning for Thomas?
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN FOR THOMAS?
2020 was a difficult season for the superstar wide receiver. After the Week 1 high ankle sprain injury, missing several games, an altercation with teammate Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, being disciplined, uneven performances, more injuries, and scheduled surgery, it's been less than an ideal follow-up to a brilliant 2019.
PRIDE AND EGO
Success can go to your head. Usually, amateurs and professionals, not just athletes, suffered from what my mother would call, having "THE BIG HEAD." Swollen with pride and ego, and unable to handle success well. In the NFL, elite wide receivers often have this "DIVA" like syndrome. For a person like Michael Thomas, many outsiders didn't see it coming.
Thomas was never a very talkative and egotistical player since he entered the New Orleans Saints' locker room in 2016. Confident, yes, but brash and annoying, no.
The first indications of Thomas having humility issues were in his social media posts during the 2019 offseason following setting the single-season receptions record (149) and being named the 2019 AP Offensive Player of the Year.
His social media "beef" with Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker and other players were glaring. The bragging and put-downs had some NFL fans attacking Thomas and negatively evaluating his routes in the New Orleans offense. I recall one person calling him "Slant Boy."
Still, Thomas kept on the offensive. Old coaches would say, a player should never read his own press. My friends would kid around and say, "don't be a legend in your own mind." Stay humble. Because the fall from grace will be soon to follow.
Pride and ego are destructive. Most immensely talented players would point back those characteristics as contributing factors in derailing a player's career. Whether it's the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Tennis, Golf, or in a corporate business setting, poorly handling success can precipitate devastating results. It never fails and Thomas was not immune.
LEARNING THE LESSON OF SUCCESS
New Orleans needs him to rebound. Although the Saints' offense continued to perform well in his absence, it wasn't perfect. Drew Brees and Taysom Hill would have been better quarterbacks last season with him, than without.
Has "Can't Guard Mike" learned his lesson and gained the wisdom from taking last season's "L."
Pride and ego have destroyed sports dynasties and relationships. Recent examples were the Chicago Bulls with Jerry Krause vs. Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan, and the Los Angeles Lakers and the tensions between Shaq and Kobe. It also extends to why in entertainment legendary bands, celebrities, and Hollywood power couples would split. Inflated egos and unforgiveness.
Fortunately for Michael Thomas, he can atone for his behavior and reclaim his role as the best receiver in the NFL. Saints fans are forgiving.
Maturity and humility are ways to counter pride and ego.
Players cannot take for granted their time in the NFL. Careers can be shortened due to injuries, poor performances, and bad reputations. Being blackballed is a reality in sports.
I don't believe one season's "L" will define Michael Thomas.
How will he respond in 2021?
We shall see.