Safety Michael Thomas signed with the Houston Texans in April after playing his first eight seasons in the NFL mostly with the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants.
Thomas grew up in Houston and went to school at Stratford High School. Following the loss of a pair of family members to illness since the start of last season, the chance to return home and play for the Texans was an opportunity Thomas jumped at.
“It’s surreal to even think that I’m playing back at home,” Thomas said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “I didn’t know it would mean that much to me. To get a chance to be here and help this team win and play for the hometown team, it’s amazing. It’s a blessing.”
Thomas’ 30-year old sister, NnZinga, died last September due to breast cancer. He then saw his mom, Bernadette, lose her battle with post-stroke symptoms and early Alzheimer’s disease last month.
“It’s definitely tough when you’re not with your family,” Thomas said. “When I lost my sister, I had that feeling of ‘I’m not there.’ My mom was sick and coping with the loss of my sister, and you’re not present. It bothered me a little bit. It ate at me.”
Thomas went undrafted out of Stanford in 2012 and signed with the San Francisco 49ers. He spent most of his first two years in the league on the team’s practice squad before being signed to the Dolphins’ active roster late in 2013. In his first game for Miami, he made two critical plays, including an interception of Tom Brady in a win over the New England Patriots. He would appear in a total of 56 games for the Dolphins over five seasons.
While he’s made 33 career starts, he’s made his biggest impact on special teams. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018 as a special teams performer with the Giants. He was also an injury replacement for the 2019 Pro Bowl in the same role.
In addition to being back home, Thomas is excited for the chance he has with the Texans as well.
“(Bill O’Brien) is a straightforward guy, very fiery,” Thomas said. “What I love about him is he sets the expectation, lets you know what he wants from you and how he sees you. Coach (Anthony) Weaver played the game and understands different roles. There are superstars who are cornerstones, and there are other guys doing the grunt work. Everyone is important.”