The status of De’Anthony Thomas has been a lingering mystery for the better part of a month. The Chiefs have maintained it’s a personal matter and that it’s not related to the concussion that sidelined him for the better part of December.
But on Wednesday night, Thomas seemed to indicate the opposite. At 10:46 p.m. Central, he posted on Twitter “STILL TRYING TO RECOVER FROM MY CONCUSSION” in all caps, which he always uses but was nevertheless impossible to miss.
In his next Twitter post, sent at 10:47 p.m., he posted “ITS NOT A GAME.”
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On Dec. 31, a few days before the Chiefs’ regular-season finale against Oakland, the club placed Thomas on the reserve/non-football illness list, effectively ending his season.
The next day, Chiefs coach Andy Reid spoke briefly about Thomas’ status. “It is not concussion-related — I just have to leave it at that,” Reid said.
On Thursday, during an interview with 610 Sports Radio when he was told about the Twitter posts, Reid again said Thomas passed concussion protocol.
“He seemed fine when he was here,” Reid said. “That wasn’t what he told me why things ended that way. So I’m not going to get into all that, but it wasn’t concussion-related.”
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, during a conference call with reporters Thursday, was asked if the hit that caused the concussion made Thomas evaluate whether he should continue playing football. He responded by saying Thomas passed NFL concussion protocol.
“That’s good enough with me because that protocol is the best there is in sports,” Dorsey said. “They take every delicate step because they care about player safety.
“There’s some things that tie my hands from really going into detail about this, but I just want to reaffirm to you all that I love this kid, and he’s a great kid, and that’s how we’re going to stand and keep it all right now.”
Dorsey said he expected Thomas to report for the start of the Chiefs’ organized team activities in late April. Dorsey added he’s spoken to Thomas “a couple of times” since the end of the season, and Dorsey said Thomas still loves football. “Yeah, all my conversations with him lead me to believe that,” Dorsey said.
Thomas, an elusive second-year pro who has made an impact as an offensive specialist and kick- and punt-returner since his selection in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, missed the Chiefs’ last six games after suffering a concussion Nov. 22 in a 33-3 win over the San Diego Chargers.
The team said he missed the first four of those six games because of a concussion, but Thomas was ruled out of the second-to-last game — a 17-13 win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns — for what the club called “a non-football-related reason.”
The Chiefs made the announcement that Thomas would not play a day before that game, which was notable because he was a full participant in practice that week and was listed as “probable” on the team’s final injury report on Friday. The NFL defines the “probable” designation as a “virtual certainty” the player will be able to play.
Thomas’ agent, Jerome Stanley, told The Star the day before the game that Thomas and the Chiefs collectively decided it was wiser to give Thomas a full week to return to the field before seeing game action, and that the timing of Thomas’ clearance from the league’s concussion protocol did not allow that for Sunday’s game.
Stanley also said he expected Thomas to be ready to go starting Dec. 28, but Thomas did not return to practice that week, adding another laying of mystery.
Reid explained after the game that Thomas was dealing with “some personal issues that he’s working through.” When asked if Thomas was at the Chiefs’ practice facility on Dec. 30, the day he spoke to the media for the final time about Thomas, Reid responded that he didn’t “know exactly where he is.”
Two days later, when Reid noted that Thomas’ absence was not concussion-related, he was also asked afterward whether Thomas will be in the Chiefs’ plans in 2016.
“Listen, I really don’t know on that. The question was ‘will we have him in 2016?’ I don’t know that, that would be a (general manager John Dorsey) question.”