Michael Thomas Odell Beckham Jr.
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Michael Thomas doing Joe Horn, Odell Beckham Jr. lifting his leg like a dog … it’s all part of the decline of authentic NFL appreciation.

Robby Sabo

While at the water coolers on Monday—suffering through that 9-to-5 office job—the name “Michael Thomas’ undoubtedly bandied itself about.

A microcosm of where sports in 2018 has everybody is why Thomas’s name hit the water coolers early in the week.

Ask everybody, even, perhaps, your mom, why Thomas’s weekend fame rose to such great heights and the answer will be universal: the man broke out the cell phone to pay homage to Joe Horn.

Follow that one up with this beauty: how well did Thomas play in the actual game? The answers for that one will come back as extremely muddled.

Nobody would know he collected 12 receptions for 211 yards. It’s all about the cell phone. They’ll just know he scored the final touchdown for a cell phone was in use.

Twitter, Bleacher Report, and the rest of the social-media forced platforms in the world continued to carry the casual torch all day long. Two-hundred receiving yards is small potatoes compared to racking up 15 penalty yards in a 10-point game to do a selfish, premeditated touchdown celebration.

From a classical point of view, the biggest NFL game of the year netted the biggest results when the New Orleans Saints knocked off the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, the final unbeaten team in 2018. If only the classical, diehard view remained the most important.

Losers of just one game, Drew Brees’s Saints took a large leap forward in the game of securing home-field advantage throughout the NFC bracket of the NFL tournament this January. The team now owns the head-to-head tiebreaker after the 45-35 thrilling victory.

Of course, this hasn’t been the narrative. Leave it up to the casual onlookers whose appreciation for the actual game incorrectly lacks to take such a meaningless moment to the next level.

Yeah, stay that casual fan who doesn’t know the difference between a Cover 1 and Cover 1 Robber.

Legendary, huh, says J.A. Adande?

Thomas’s celebration isn’t what’s wrong with sports. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with the move (as long as it won’t cost his team 15 yards). It’s the overwhelming reaction that allows such nonsense to override the real story at hand that’s drowning out the appreciation of great football.

In addition, it’s the nasty pushback that comes down on the individual who calls out how wrong sports is during this incredibly crazed social-media world that celebrates all the wrong items. The casual sports people team-up against the old crank who hates seeing such disasters. Though the old crank enjoys fun, he or she understands it should never pass the importance of the game itself—something that’s disappeared over the last half-decade or so.

For instance, even the detractors know what Micahel Thomas pulled off was fun. It’s a nice move. The best part about it is the fact he did, indeed, send a nice and tidy homage to an old-school guy within his own organization.

Where we go wrong is not leaving it at that: a nice aside acting as second-fiddle to the actual game. Where we go wrong as a new social-media society is making that untalented and counterproductive moment bigger than the actual meat of the game itself. Look at the tweets above, folks. ESPN, CBS Sports, Bleacher Report—the list of platforms who’d not overstate such a moment has dwindled down to none, and it’s a real issue in our casual sports world.

Enter Odell Beckham Jr., perhaps the king as it pertains to attention-grabbing via anything other than the play on the field itself.

One-handed grabs prior to the game? Oh yeah, it continuously trends on Twitter. Instagram stories celebrating “money, money, money?” Oh yeah, it’s proudly on Instagram. Those custom cleats proudly repping a new idea each Sunday (though he technically can’t use them during the game)? Of course, the tweet is on Bleacher Report.

Never should these fun items be ignored yet never should they surpass the importance of the actual game itself. Until Odell Beckham Jr. rights his unforgiving wrong during the Green Bay playoff loss, cleats and one-handed snags won’t matter in this town.

Wow. The flag was worth it, says Complex Sports?

Up nine points with 3:52 to go in the biggest regular-season game this season, there’s not a chance in the world the 15-yards were worth it. These are the L.A. freaking Rams—one of the most powerful offenses in the league. You do not give them an extra nudge.

Would it have been worth it if the Saints defense didn’t hold up and the Rams overcame the two-possession deficit? We all know the answer to that one.

Naturally, the story runs even further than just paying homage. Joe Horn is reached (of courrse) and suddenly, it’s a heavy-hearted story paying tribute to one of the NFL’s solid wideouts of his era.

Please. Stop it. It takes zero talent to stuff a cell phone underneath the field goal post pads only to reveal it during the game after a touchdown.

That’s right: no talent necessary, yet the majority of folks only now know the name of Michael Thomas due to his “Joe Horn celebratory move.”

They should know him for his 12 catches and 211 yards. They should know him as one of the top wideouts in the league (far and better than Mr. Jor Horn, by the way). But because that’s not the case, the social-media effect on the world of sports has traveled past the point of stranglehold and into insanity.

Let’s keep the fun stuff as nice second-fiddle stories rather than the event itself.

Just take a moment and think about what’s being celebrated. … it’s so silly.

Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com