“Any play could be your last.” Texans’ Thomas discusses road back, award

Dec 26, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans cornerback Tavierre Thomas (37) returns an interception for a touchdown as Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Storm Norton (74) attempts to make a tackle during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

“Any play could be your last.” Texans’ Thomas discusses road back, award

Houston Texans defensive back Tavierre Thomas described his challenge in overcoming injury, thoughts of leaving the game, and being voted the Ed Block Courage Award winner by his teammates.

Tavierre Thomas has always been one of the fastest players on his team. Speed was his calling card. No one was going to outrun him; he could close distances. He took pride in his speed.

For a while, it was taken away from him. A quadriceps injury landed Thomas on IR to start the season. It was a position he had never been in before.

“I couldn’t run. The biggest thing for me playing DB and special teams; I’ve always been one of the fastest guys. If I can’t do that, then it’s tough for me. I never really played defense until last year, so I never really knew all the techniques that Des (Desmond King II), Tre (Tremon Smith), and those guys know. I just know to run faster than everybody and hit hard. I was pretty down when I couldn’t run fast.”

For the first time in his life, Thomas was injured. It took away the greatest strength he had. To make things worse, it wasn’t the kind of injury that just heals in a certain amount of time, and then it’s all good. His injury took longer than he thought, and it was very frustrating for him.

“It was rehab and time. The time portion of it, I felt like I could have come back earlier than I did. But at the same time, I couldn’t. Every time I tried to push it, I couldn’t do it. I just had to listen to the training staff. They knew what they were doing, and I just trusted them. I’m finally back, and I’m happy to be back.”

Even when he got back, he didn’t feel like himself yet. He didn’t trust himself yet. It took some game reps to regain that confidence.

“It took a game or two because I was scared to hit top speed. But now they told me, ‘It’s already done. It can’t happen again.’ So, I just pushed it as fast as I could and didn’t feel anything when I did it. I was just happy that it didn’t do it, and now I’m just flying around.”

Being on the sidelines so long made Thomas deeply frustrated, concerned whether he would ever be the same player again. He needed to find an outlet for that frustration so that it wouldn’t have a negative impact on him. He needed to lean on his support systems, like his family, his fiancee, and his friends. It turned out he needed a little more than that, and Texans counselor Omar Sesay was a big part of that as well.

“My family, my fiancée, and my son. Some of my close friends were checking in on me and coming up, just being around me because I was really in a bad spot mentally. Omar (Sesay M.Ed., LPC-S, NCC) helped me out a lot. He was texting with me and staying with me a lot. I’ve just really had to keep my mental up. My family and my friends got me through it. In the 22 years of playing football, I’ve never been hurt and never sat out a game. It was pretty tough for me, but at the same time, God does not make mistakes, so I just went out there and grinded to get back. I’m just happy to be back.”

Being away from football reminded Thomas of how fragile and NFL career can be.

“That football can be taken away from you at any point in time. Nobody is safe. NFL means not for long, so when you are out there, you’ve got to just go as hard as you can because any play could be your last. I learned that. That was the biggest thing for me. And then figuring out my plan B because I never thought about a plan B. Like if I don’t play football anymore, what should I do? I thought about that and got that together. Those were the main things.”

What is Thomas’ Plan B?

“A lot of real estate. I’m trying to get into that. I’m trying to get into a lot of real estate because I’ve never even thought about anything else outside of football. I’m trying Air BnBs and that sort of stuff, so I’m going pretty good now. It was a bad thing that happened to me, but it was a good thing for me as a father and a man in general.”

Thomas felt honored to be named the team’s Ed Block Courage Award winner by his teammates.

“It means a lot. That was the most stressful time of my career, just not playing football. My teammates and the training staff, they helped me get through that. I’m happy they voted for me. I knew nothing about it until they came into the team meeting room. I was pretty happy. I’m happy to be back playing football.”

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