Solomon Wilcots, a starting safety on that ’90 team who has morphed into one of the NFL’s top analysts, stayed in the Cincinnati suburbs charting the game on his computer and compiling the nuts and bolts with his keyboard. But he knew this was not a night for data.
“They were paying tribute to the guys that paved the way,” Wilcots says.
Like Thomas, who is still Wilcots’ workout partner a few days a week in the gym. As Thomas watched Burrow dance on his rehabbed ACL, it was a good time to recall that in 1990 Thomas was probably the first NFL player to tear an ACL and play in the same year.
He got hurt playing basketball in May and back then, that meant he was even a question mark to be ready for 1991 training camp. But with trainers Paul Sparling and Rob Recker making sure he wasn’t overdoing it, Thomas shocked the world and was back by Dec. 9, 1990 for the 13th game of the season. It would be a harbinger of 2021, when Burrow fully expected to start training camp despite getting hurt on Nov. 22, 2020.
“I wanted to play,” Thomas says. “When you’ve got a chance to play in the playoffs, you don’t want to miss those games. It worked out with the technique we played and what we were asked to do. Especially when we played Houston.
“There was just a…