want to be like Mike?

by Brenton Crozier
Mike Thomas may have quietly, even unknowingly, restored faith in the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. The Jags had a great draft in 2008 and they got solid play from many in the draft class, but Thomas was different. He was a skill player that delivered, provided some of the most memorable flashes of the season and is the type of young player that makes you feel like they are really building something good. In talking to him, you get the sense that excelling, being “the guy,” has always come naturally. He takes a surprisingly pragmatic approach to football, but never gives the impression that he is disinterested or not going to work as hard as everybody else.
I asked Mike what one thing people would be the most surprised to find out about him and he didn’t have an answer. And besides his size, which you can find in the stat sheets, I found the biggest surprise to be how much he understands the player/community relationship. He doesn’t speak in insincere terms about how much he loves it here because of what Jacksonville has to offer, but rather because it is home to his football team and he recognizes how much the community needs the franchise. This, to me, feels like a real buy-in. We spoke with Mike about his personal predilections, the Jacksonville community and, most certainly, football.
EU: What was your initial impression of Jacksonville?
It’s pretty cool. It’s nice to have the water around and obviously the stadium is downtown; that’s a good thing. I’m used to the big city so it’s a little different out here, a little more country and being so close to the ocean.
EU: How important is it for you to get involved in the Jacksonville community?
I think it’s key. First of all, it’s a blessing to even be in this position. I think that’s our duty as well- to be in the community and give back and to show people that we care and that it’s not all about the money. Why not use your position to get out there and help some people out?
EU: How much of a concern are ticket sales for the players?
I don’t think we put too much emphasis on it. Of course, us winning will definitely improve that, but I think right now all we can do is kind of encourage. It’s gonna go how it’s gonna go. If we play our part and win, it will definitely fill up.
EU: Do you think it’s getting better?
Yeah, I think that people are realizing the area and the community might suffer a little from us being gone. We love having every bit of support. We feed off of the crowd.
EU: What was the biggest surprise about the NFL?
It wasn’t what everyone made it out to be. It was just football at the end of the day. It wasn’t too fast- for me it wasn’t. A lot of people coming in were saying that the adjustment could be kind of crazy. But it wasn’t that bad for me. There’s a lot that goes into it as far as studying and being prepared, but at the end of the day it’s football. I think a lot of people misinterpret that because it’s on a bigger stage.
EU: What are your expectations for this year?
I’ve got big expectations. I want to be everything I can be. As long as I’m out there giving it 110% in practice, it will transfer to the field. I think the yards, the catches, all that stuff will come. I never set specific goals for myself. That’s how I approach it. That’s how I handle my business.
EU: Do you have a pre and post game ritual?
Before the games, I always make sure to get some prayer time in and just kind of zone out. I talk to God a little bit, talk about what we’re going to do this game. Just try to picture it and visualize it. And then I go out there and, most the time, it happens. Afterwards, you just thank God again for being injury free and you move on to the next.
EU: Fill in the blank: If I weren’t a professional football player, I’d be an ______.
MT. Actor. I’m very comedian-like. I have some attributes about me that would make a good comedy movie.
EU: Favorite down time activities?
We like to go to the movies a lot. I’m kind of like a movie critic.
EU: What is your biggest guilty pleasure movie?
I’d probably have to pick that Twilight movie.
EU: Do you have a nickname?
They call me Money Mike. I got that name in college. And they just call me Mike T besides that.
EU: We were throwing around Mr. T.
A: Mr.T. Yeah. (EU: Not the type of confirmation we were looking for to move forward with his new nickname.)
EU: What’s the one thing that you would want the Jacksonville community to know about you?
Regardless of my stature, my size, I’m going to go out there and give it my all. I’m going to work hard and I’m dedicated to it. I want this team and this town to enjoy the playoffs and the Superbowl. Let’s have some fun and do it together.
I believe him. Mike was pleasantly laid back and focused a lot of his pre- and post-interview thoughts on his family. He even brought his little brother, whom he refers to as his “little big brother” along. After spending time with him, there is no doubt that this really is a Gene Smith type of guy. Find out more about Mike, interact with him and participate in his many contests on his Facebook and Twitter pages.