By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he was as dirty as all get-out. Never would have suspected that, right?
The Jets can’t give away their general manager’s job. After three weeks and eight candidates — one of whom couldn’t wait to sign with Jacksonville after hearing Woody Johnson’s spiel — the owner may have to resort to kidnapping Mike Tannenbaum’s eventual successor.
Back in the real world, the NRA just released an iPhone/iPad game app that allows players as young as 4 years told to shoot at coffin-shaped targets with the military assault weapon of their choice.
Looks like we can all use a little good news right now.
So here you go.
Sure, it’s not earthshaking stuff, and it’s a longshot at best. But if anyone has the mental toughness and perseverance to pull it off, it’s Thomas. Remember, at one time Thomas was considered one of the top up-and-coming cornerbacks in the NFL, a physical player who was going to lock down the right side of the Giants’ secondary.
That was before he blew out his right ACL in training camp in 2011, necessitating the second reconstruction operation of his career. He had previously torn the same one during college at USC.
Out went the 2011 season, and hello 2012. Again, he tore the same one. Again, he underwent an operation, this time to repair a partial tear.
He is committed to becoming only the second player in NFL history to return to action following three ACL surgeries, the first being Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.
“I am returning to football in 2013, hopefully with the Giants,” Thomas wrote on his website. “But my contract is up this year. But most likely, hopefully, I’ll be re-signing with them.”
In the same entry, Thomas intimated that rehabbing the knee has been hard on him mentally as well as physically. But he may well be unaware of how hard it may be contract-wise to get back with the Giants, or anybody for that matter.
The Giants won’t pick up his option, which is the perfectly normal thing to do with someone who has spent the last two years on injured reserve. That makes him a free agent. No matter who offers him a contract, Thomas can expect no more than the league minimum given his injury track record. Even allowing him to set foot on a training camp practice field presents a risk to anyone who signs him.
But if they knew Thomas as a person, as Giants general manager Jerry Reese does, he might just get a shot. Maybe even with his original team. If healthy, Thomas’ physicality could come in handy on the corner or in the middle of the field, considering safety Kenny Phillips’ own faulty wheels will probably land him on the open market.
Give Thomas this. There’s no doubt about his commitment.
“I’m on a 30-day diet,” Thomas wrote. “Nothing to the extreme. I have moved to Pensacola (from California) for the next month to train and rehab. I want to give you guys updates that the 2012 season is over and I can make a comeback and be the same player I have been.”
Thomas indicated that the toughest challenge will be the daily 200 pushups and 300 abdominal crunches he plans for the next month.
Reese didn’t exactly say he’d take a chance on Thomas. But he didn’t close the door, either, during a recent radio interview.
“A couple of ACLs playing corner is tough to do,” Reese told WFAN’s Mike Francesa. “But he’s a smart guy. You’ve seen guys before that start careers at cornerback and have some injuries or lose a step, and teams move them inside to safety. That’s something we’ll look at.”
It all depends on how fast, and how well, Thomas can get that knee back into shape. It may never happen, despite his best efforts.
But the hard-nosed Thomas will certainly give it his best shot. That’s just part of his mental makeup.
It kind of gives you something to root for amid all the depressing news elsewhere.
Will Thomas ever again be the effective player that he once was? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…