Homecoming Is Perfect Timing For Texans DB Michael Thomas

Brandon Scott
June 04, 2020 - 5:26 pm

(SportsRadio 610) -- Texans defensive back and special teamer Michael Thomas may be new to the squad, but the city of Houston is where he calls home. 

Thomas, entering his eighth NFL season and first with the Texans, played high school ball at Nimitz High School in Aldine. Much of his family and friends still live in Houston.

Thomas called it "a dream come true" being able to play for the hometown team. 

It means even more that he can dedicate the season to his sister and mother, both of whom his family lost in the past year.

His sister, NnZinga Thomas, was only one year and three months older, but died of breast cancer last September, NnZinga Thomas, was only one year and three months older.

His mother Bernadette, was recently buried the day before Mother's Day. She'd dealt with post-stroke symptoms for years and early onset Alzheimer's disease, Thomas said. 

"That’s been tough, but to actually be here with my family in Houston, I think that’s going to be something that helps the healing process and I’m going to dedicate this season to them," Thomas said Wednesday on a Zoom conference call. "Everything that I can do to help my family cope with it. I know by playing in Houston that’s going to bring them joy, just to be around me, to be around everything. I’m going to use this season to uplift my family.”

Thomas was introduced to media covering the Texans just after head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien delivered a passionate speech about advocating for black people against racism.

Meanwhile, Thomas had already been on the front lines of the NFL's conflicting relationship with this advocacy. 

He took a knee with Kenny Stills and former Texans running back Arian Foster when they all played together for the Miami Dolphins. 

At that time, the demonstration was largely frowned upon, so much to the point that the first player to take a knee has not worked in the NFL since.

Yet the comments from O'Brien, who Thomas still does not know very well, were encouraging. 

His return to Houston intersects with the COVID-19 pandemic and the killing of fellow Houston-native George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. 

The aftermath has resulted in marches and protests around the country calling for justice.

Thomas said in years' past, he's had to suppress his frustrations with the senseless killings of black people, and that he now he could use his platform to speak about these important matters. 

"Now I don’t feel like I have to hide who I am," Thomas said. "I don’t have to suppress my anger, my frustration which coincides with the rest of the black and the African American community that’s been going on for, like he said, over 400 years. Traumatized by seeing videos after videos, murder after murder, pleading for justice, pleading for just empathy. Now it’s like OK, the temperature has changed, the tones have changed. You can hear it in their statements. I was not expecting Bill O’Brien to be that thorough, to be that spot on with all the comments he made. I mean, he touched on everything. ...

"That means a lot as a young African American man playing in the NFL."

Thomas hopes eventually social issues are treated similarly to others players are able to speak on freely, like cancer awareness and anti-bullying. 

It's not lost on Thomas that the NFL was singing a different tune in 2016, when player demonstrations during the national anthem first began with Colin Kaepernick. 

"We want to see real change," Thomas said. "We have to address at some point, the players who tried to speak on this before, and I’m trying to use the right word – persecuted or exiled, whatever you want to say, for doing the same thing that we’re saying we care about now. Players are going to call for that conversation to happen because the people are going to call for that conversation to happen. We can’t just act like it didn’t happen."

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