Thomas upset at being sent home by Belichick
Adalius Thomas wasted no time defending himself after coach Bill Belichick sent him home for being late to a team meeting.
The New England Patriots linebacker said after returning Thursday that he was ``dumbfounded'' and ``can't figure out what Bill thinks or knows.''
Three other players were sent away for showing up late on Wednesday - wide receiver Randy Moss and linebackers Gary Guyton and Derrick Burgess. All four were at practice on Thursday, but the other three declined to speak with reporters.
Thomas, a starter in nine games this year, called ahead on a snowy Wednesday morning, as players are instructed to do when they're going to be late, he said. Traffic was tied up and he nearly got into an accident, he said. But when he showed up about nine minutes late for an 8 a.m. team meeting, Belichick told him to leave.
That surprised him.
``You're told to call and you call, you get sent home,'' Thomas said.
``That's not an excuse,'' he said, but ``I could have been in the ditch. They really don't give a damn, honestly. As long as you ain't in the meeting they really don't give a (expletive).''
The situation arose at a critical time for the Patriots (7-5) and could be a distraction heading into Sunday's game in Foxborough against the Carolina Panthers (5-7). New England's AFC East lead is down to one game after losses in three of the last four games.
``Your focus should be on Carolina, but instead it's on this whole topic of being late,'' Thomas said.
Patriots players rarely question Belichick publicly, often echoing his bland comments about their performances and upcoming opponents. But this isn't the first time Thomas has been upset. Belichick didn't activate him for a 59-0 win over the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 18 even though he was healthy.
When asked three days after that game why he was benched, Thomas said, ``Ask Bill. He has all the answers.''
Thomas, 32, is in the third year of a five-year contract that he signed after becoming a free agent following seven seasons with the Baltimore Ravens in which he had 38 1/2 sacks. He had 11 1/2 sacks the past two years but has been inconsistent this year with 27 tackles and three sacks.
Belichick said at the time he activates players who he feels give the Patriots the best chance to win. The Titans were 0-6 after that loss. Thomas has had two sacks since then.
``There's a lot of things that go on that you're dumbfounded by,'' Thomas said. ``I just roll with the punches.''
He scoffed at the idea that Belichick sent him home Wednesday to motivate him.
``Motivation is for kindergartners. I'm not a kindergartner,'' he said. ``Sending somebody home, that's like, 'Oh, you're expelled,' and come back and make good grades. Get that (expletive) out of here. That's ridiculous.''
Thomas admitted that he doesn't watch the weather report. Then, just before he changed the subject to Sunday's game, another veteran strolled by the pack of reporters surrounding him.
``Sorry, A.D.,'' cornerback Shawn Springs said in a high-pitched voice.
``Sorry, Shawn,'' Thomas responded as both laughed.
Springs, 34, joined the Patriots this year after seven seasons with Seattle and three with Washington. He started four of the first five games, came off the bench in the next three and was healthy but inactive for the next four games.
Thomas said he drove to Gillette Stadium by himself Wednesday and was with another player when Belichick told both to leave. It was the first time he was sent home for tardiness, he said.
``He's the head coach. He makes all the calls and so whether you agree with it or not, you just roll with them,'' Thomas said. ``That's one thing about Mother Nature. You can't control that. You can't run people over getting to work, so there ain't nothing to really apologize (for). I didn't try to be late. (There are) cars sitting in the road, you're sitting there. It's not the Jetsons. I can't jump up and just fly. What am I supposed to do?''
So he went home and watched film of the Panthers.
``I tried to be professional by letting them know that I was going to be late,'' Thomas said. ``I just do what I'm told. I was told to go home so that's what I did.''
On Thursday he was back, another day in a frustrating season for him and his team.
``Real frustrating,'' Thomas said.