The NFL has fined New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas $30,000 for using a cellphone as a prop and having a mobile device in the bench area last Sunday.
Thomas brought back former Saints receiver Joe Horn’s memorable 2003 celebration by retrieving a hidden cellphone from around the bottom of a goalpost. Horn was also fined $30,000 for his celebration 15 years ago, but that had been his second violation of the season.
Thomas’ cellphone celebration followed a 72-yard touchdown catch that sealed the Saints’ 45-35 victory over the then-unbeaten Rams and gave Thomas 12 catches for 211 yards. Thomas was penalized for the celebration.
Asked if someone helped plant the phone, Thomas said, “Um, I think someone … I think Joe Horn left it.”
“I paid a tribute to him, tried to get the crowd going a little bit more, set the tone, have fun out there, giving people a show,” Thomas said. “You gotta have fun. All these guys just catching touchdowns and celebrating with each other, having fun, getting the crowd involved. I felt like I had an opportunity to make it happen, put the game away and make a call.”
Horn told ESPN the gesture “absolutely” meant a lot to him. Horn said he texted Thomas and “thanked him for doing what most athletes in his position would never do.”
Thomas had not yet heard about the fine when he spoke to the media this week. When asked what the response was like for him this week in the wake of his celebration, he said, “It was fun. The best thing about it was that we won. So everything else is just secondary.”
When asked if he heard more positive or negative reaction, Thomas said, “I stopped listening to it after a while. With my locker room and my teammates, we won the game, we beat a tough opponent. Other than that, we really didn’t talk much else about it.”
Saints coach Sean Payton didn’t let Thomas off the hook, but he also didn’t come down too hard publicly on his receiver, who was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Rams and ranks second in the NFL with 70 catches through eight games, with 880 yards and five touchdowns.
“He is playing at a crazy elite level, and each week it gets tough because of the coverages he sees. He draws the best corners,” Payton said. “He’s a very passionate player. You certainly don’t want 15-yard penalties and he understands that. So we’ll leave it at that.”
ESPN’s Mike Triplett contributed to this report.