Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas doesn't shy away from a target on the field, nor does he avoid sizing one up online.
Thomas, the single-season receptions record-setter who also maintains a frequent internet presence, became irritated by an otherwise harmless social media poll Monday. In these days of little movement to inspire content, we turn to barbershop conversations as the basis of scheduled social posts. NFL on FOX's Instagram people decided to pose a this-or-that question to drum up some debate.
We're not so certain they expected the actual subject to get involved.
Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker selected option A in the informal poll -- make a catch while guarded by All-Pro corner Stephon Gilmore -- which is something he's attempted to do in his career. Thomas took exception.
"For you yes," Thomas wrote in a response to Parker. "Go run some numbers up. Then you can talk I lapped you and you been in the league longer then (sic) me first rounder," closing with a laughing emoji.
The battle had only begun. We'll summarize to save some screen space, but it was basically Parker asking to "get targeted 300 times a game" which is somewhat of a valid claim, considering Thomas led the league in targets with 185, catching 149 of them. The next closest receiver in that category was Atlanta's Julio Jones, who was targeted 157 times and caught 99 of them.
Former Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh jumped into the debate, writing "EZ (easy) answer for me! Look at the stats, damn near every ball thrown to (Thomas) was a completion! That's a FACT," which he ended with a shrugging emoji.
The conversation then devolved into bickering and name-calling, with Thomas closing with "you can't even get a seat at the table."
Thomas is considered to be one of the league's elite receivers. Parker's breakout season was his most recent, his first 1,000-yard campaign which earned him a four-year, $40 million extension. He's a rising prospect and a bit of a late bloomer who also walked himself, perhaps accidentally, into an argument.
In Thomas' defense, most everyone remains at home these days. There's plenty of time to scroll the 'Gram. But in a sport dominated by alpha males, either response was bound to draw ire from one of the subjects. It just happened to bring in a man whose social account handles are based on his belief that you cannot contain him.
"At the end of the day, you just want your respect. I value respect," Thomas told reporters Tuesday, per ESPN's Mike Triplett. "And when you put in the work, I feel like you deserve to think like that and be like that -- keep everybody honest.
"At the end of the day, we'll find out who was right and who was wrong. So just keep everybody honest. And that doesn't just mean the people that's talking, that's also yourself. If you're gonna talk it, you've gotta definitely walk it, too. And I like that type of pressure."