Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas says first-round draft pick Josh Allen must earn his teammates' respect, given the racial slurs and other offensive language that appeared years ago in his high school Twitter posts.
"I think it was a good selection," Thomas said. "Obviously, there's some things that have been said about him, about his (completion) percentages and some tweets that he tweeted out when he was 16 years old."
Allen is probably the most talented and athletic guy in the draft besides Lamar Jackson, the Louisville quarterback drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, Thomas said.
Thomas credited both General Manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott.
"You have to give it up to coach McDermott and Brandon Beane," Thomas said. "Since they got here, they haven't stopped doing things like this. Every time they've done something like this, they seem to have hit it on the button as being the right thing to do, even trading away Sammy (Watkins) and trading away Marcell Dareus. But now they've been able to get a guy who they believe in, that's going to lead this franchise for the next 10 or 15 years."
Thomas said he didn't think the Twitter issue will be a problem for Allen in the locker room.
"I don't think so. I think he's learned his lesson," Thomas said. "Now, the hard part for him is going to be, 'OK, I need to go into this locker room and not be cocky about it, but earn the respect of these guys. I know I'm a young guy; they moved up how many spaces to get me with No. 7. I'm the highest draft pick, quarterback-wise, that they've had in a while, and yes, I do have a past.' "
The team has a history of successfully dealing with issues.
"It's going to be very interesting to see how that goes along in the locker room," Thomas said. "He's going to have to get the trust of those guys, and I think he will, because I think coach McDermott and Brandon Beane have done an excellent job of, whatever guy we've had — LeSean (McCoy) did something, Richie's (Incognito) past, and now you have Josh Allen and his past — and they've dealt with it very, very well, so hopefully it'll continue to be that way."
There was no social media in the Bills' Super Bowl years, but the "Bickering Bills" produced their fair share of off-field comments and exploits.
"We handled it like we would handle anything else," Thomas said. "We'd come in the locker room. We'd talk about it as men. That's what we'd do. We used to sit in the locker room and kind of wait until 10:00 or whenever, when everybody gets there on a Monday, a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, and try to find out if somebody did something bad that night. You'd look forward to going in the locker room every day at practice because, 'Oh, you should have seen Bruce last night.' We enjoyed that. That's the type of family atmosphere they have to have. They have to be able to be open with each other, but make it a joke, make it fun. Because you're here for six or seven months, and your opportunity to try to win a Super Bowl, and hopefully they'll do that."
"I'm also happy for the linebacker we got out of Virginia Tech," Thomas said of Tremaine Edmunds, the Bills' other first-round pick. "Awesome kid. Young kid. As soon as we drafted him, Bruce Smith texted everybody saying 'He's a Hokie from Virginia Tech.' "
Smith played his college football at Virginia Tech.
"With those guys, hopefully they can lead this franchise back where it needs to be and win a Super Bowl," Thomas said.