Without the announcement of his name in the stadium and the No. 13 jersey, it would’ve been hard to recognize New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas during pre-game introductions on Monday night.
Thomas ran onto the field before the game against Washington wearing a black ski mask, a new wardrobe choice for the budding third-year star.
“When you go out there on the big stage, you just got to sometimes put on that mask and just black out and do anything to get this game for your brothers,” Thomas said of the mask after the game. “Sometimes you have to set the tone. It’s a night game on a big stage. You want to make sure everyone knows what it is.”
The ski mask sort of kept up with a team theme from last year when the Saints defense gave itself the nickname “Boonk Gang,” a reference to a series of internet videos of a man being a bandit.
“It’s just the mood that we get in when we go out there and we get ready to compete against another team,” Thomas said. “Kind of just, it’s us versus them, and we’re going in there to take something. They’re not going to just hand it to us.”
The Saints dominated Washington on Monday, winning 43-19. Thomas didn’t have a big game by his standard with four catches for 74 yards, but Thomas was clearly an emotional leader on the sideline, dancing throughout the game and pumping up his offensive and defensive teammates.
Thomas also seemed to be trash-talking his opponents a bit more, something with which Washington cornerbacks Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar took issue. However, those verbal jabs seemed to energize the Saints offense.
“I just wanted to be that energy for my teammates, have fun also while we’re making plays,” Thomas said. “…This dome is contagious, the crowd, the fans, so whenever the music comes on, we try to get (the fans) going.”
Meanwhile, Saints coach Sean Payton said he didn’t like Thomas wearing the ski mask, but praised many other things about the receiver.
“I’m not a big fan of the ski mask, honestly,” Payton said. “I am a big fan of Mike, though, and how he plays. He is an emotional player. He’s tough, extremely dedicated. He works his tail off. There isn’t a more passionate player, and it’s all football 24/7. Listen, it rubs off (on the team). You can’t help but feel (it).”
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