Four months ago, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas didn’t hesitate to knock his teammate, Drew Brees, when the quarterback said he believed kneeling during the national anthem was disrespectful.

Brees got a lifetime’s worth of criticism for his remarks. Thomas was among the bashers, writing on Twitter, “He don’t know no better,” and, “We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that.”

Criticism is part of life, but it’s unusual when a sports star calls out a teammate in public. Brees promptly apologized — both publicly and to his teammates, and Thomas later tweeted that he had accepted it.

Still, there was something bothersome about the way Thomas vented in public about a good man who blindly waded into a minefield. Maybe this is a generational reaction, but why not just call Brees privately and chew him out for being insensitive? Is there no resisting the impulse to spout off on social media every time something bothers you?

Thomas was on top of the football world last year. In the summer of 2019 he signed a five-year, $96 million contract with the Saints. He then proved his value by breaking the NFL single-season reception record.

But he has had nothing but trouble during the 2020 football season. He only caught a couple of passes in the Saints’ season opener before injuring his ankle late in the game, and he has not played since.

He was scheduled to return last night, when the Saints hosted the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football, but got held out of the game as a disciplinary measure.

There were reports that Thomas punched a defensive teammate during an altercation in practice last week. Respected NFL reporter Peter King wrote in his weekly Monday morning column, “Hearing a lot about this, including the fact that teammates backed C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the practice dispute, and that this is a suspension more than another week off to rest an ankle injury. It’ll be interesting to see if Thomas works to get back in the good graces of the team, or if this remains an issue for whatever reason.”

A couple of thoughts here. First, Thomas’ teammates are giving him a nice break by keeping the dispute in the locker room instead of babbling about it on social media — although King’s report that Saints players took the defensive back’s side is fascinating. It implies that Thomas acted rashly.

Also, Brees worked hard to regain the trust and confidence of his Black teammates, and it’s now Thomas’ turn. If it’s true that he lost his temper, smacked a teammate and removed one of the NFL’s best receivers from Monday night’s game, he might want to consider a gentle public apology — something along the lines of what Brees did this summer.

People who are still mad at Thomas for the way he spouted off about Brees may think, “He don’t know no better.” The Saints receiver, in fact, needs to show everyone that he does.

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