Report: Michael Thomas suspension spurred by friction with coaches

John Sigler
·2 min read

It’s always something with the New Orleans Saints. Having come out ahead in a down-to-the-wire prime time game with the Los Angeles Chargers, they should have cruised smoothly into their bye week to regroup and prepare for the long haul.

Instead, they’re bickering with the city’s mayor about why they can’t pack tens of thousands of fans in the Superdome during a pandemic, and considering a temporary move to LSU’s Tiger Stadium. On top of that, tensions appear to be heated between the coaching staff and the team’s best player.

This Thomas suspension has been reported from the start as a one-game deal. But after Monday night’s victory, Saints coach Sean Payton wouldn’t commit to defining whether it will last longer than the one week, saying, “We’ll let you know when the time is right.”

The Athletic’s Jeff Duncan reports that while Thomas was suspended for the Chargers game after a fight with safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson in practice, the bigger issue was Thomas mouthing off to coaches after he and Gardner-Johnson were separated. This follows an earlier report from NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill who said, “Thomas acted disrespectfully toward the coaches,” which crossed a line Payton couldn’t tolerate.

Duncan outlined a couple of other incidents here and there — Thomas was unhappy with how trainers taped up his ankle, and he accused a team employee of going through his mail — but this is a far cry from an Antonio Brown situation. Thomas has been working diligently to recover from his injury and get back on the field to help his team win games.

A scrap between two of the most competitive players on the roster and some words said in the heat of the moment, plus whatever other slights Duncan was able to ferret out, don’t compare to real “diva” behavior. Relax.

It may already be behind them. NFL insider Josina Anderson reported Sunday that Thomas had already met with Payton one-on-one to talk things out, including his one-week suspension and loss of a game check. So this could all end up being nothing but a footnote at season’s end.

Maybe a week away from the facility is what everyone needs. The Saints have had a lot of success since Thomas rose to prominence. We’ll see how the situation looks after the bye week, but stay tuned for any developments.