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#pounditSaturday, December 3, 2022

Report: Michael Thomas ignored Saints’ calls for three months after season

Michael Thomas

The New Orleans Saints haven’t done much to hide their frustration with wide receiver Michael Thomas for waiting until June to undergo ankle surgery. A new report sheds further light on why the team is as frustrated as it is.

According to Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com, Thomas did not answer the team’s calls for three months between receiving the surgery recommendation in March and arriving for offseason workouts in June. In March, Saints doctors recommended Thomas undergo surgery to repair ligament damage. Thomas sought a second opinion, which is normal, and decided to try to rehab the injury instead of opting for the surgery. The Saints were supportive of that decision, and gave Thomas a series of benchmarks to meet as part of his recovery.

It was at that point that Thomas stopped taking or returning the team’s calls. Duncan reports that the wide receiver never returned “multiple calls” from the organization over the next three months. Head coach Sean Payton, wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson, and then-trainer Beau Lowery all tried to reach Thomas personally, but their calls went unanswered and unreturned.

It wasn’t until June, when Thomas reported for offseason workouts, that the Saints determined that his ankle injury still had not healed and would require surgery. The 10-to-12 week recovery and rehab process from that will almost certainly cause Thomas to miss regular season games. That could have been avoided had Thomas been in communication with the team during his rehab efforts, or if he’d simply undergone the procedure in March as the team recommended.

The Saints still aren’t sure if Thomas was intentionally ignoring the team’s calls or was simply irresponsible about checking in. One source said Thomas simply believed his recovery was going as planned.

An earlier report said that Thomas had not shown up to a follow-up appointment in April to determine whether his rehab had been successful or if surgery would still be required. Even on that timeline Thomas would have had a chance to be ready for the regular season.

Tension between Thomas and the Saints had already arisen in 2020 when he was disciplined over a practice fight with teammate CJ Gardner-Johnson. The wide receiver was also involved in multiple rounds of trade rumors. Despite the 28-year-old’s gaudy career numbers, the team’s willingness to at least consider moving on from him is much more understandable in the context of stories like this one.

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