New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas got caught taking a personal call during work on Sunday — from the end zone.
Thomas, 25, scored a touchdown during the Louisiana team’s home game against the Los Angeles Rams, and celebrated with a tribute to a star from the team’s past, Joe Horn, ESPN reported.
Thomas caught the 72-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, giving the Saints a 45-35 lead. Once in the end zone, Thomas hurried over to the goalpost and removed a hidden flip phone. He pretended to dial the phone, before holding it up to his ear.
The move was in tribute to the same celebration that earned Horn, 46, a $30,000 fine back in 2003.
Asked by ESPN how the cell phone was placed, Thomas joked, “I think Joe Horn left it,” before confirming there was one waiting in both end zones at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He noted that he watched YouTube clips of Horn’s memorable move before securing the vintage phone and ultimately recreating 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 told ESPN. “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.”
Like Horn, Thomas received a penalty for the elaborate celebration. According to ESPN, he’ll be fined at least $13,369.
The Times-Picayune reported that Horn was honored by the tribute, and saw it all go down while working out alone at a gym in Tupelo, Mississippi.
“When I saw him bring out that cellphone, I teared up,” Horn told the newspaper. “That’s something that some kids don’t do, to pay homage to an old soul. For him to do it on a national stage took a lot of courage. I’m humbled.”
He added, according to the outlet: “I’ll always appreciate Saints fans for all they did for me. I will always love the city of New Orleans, and when I come back there again, I’m going to be wearing my Michael Thomas jersey.”
Not everyone was a fan of Thomas’ actions on Sunday, though.
Michael Strahan, former New York Giants player and Fox Sports commentator, said he didn’t like either of the celebrations.
“I didn’t like it then,” Strahan said, according to the Washington Post, adding, “I didn’t like it now.”
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