Andrew Thomas might not be the first name people think of when it comes to multi-hyphenate athletes. However, the 21-year-old New York Giants tackle has a fascinating story about music’s power as it pertains to sports. Thomas just completed his first year in the NFL and immediately became a focal point of the Giants’ offense. To keep things mentally fresh, he called on another skill: piano.
Andrew Thomas in the NFL
Thomas came out of Georgia with about as lofty of expectations as possible from the fourth overall pick in the draft. While tackles rarely get the same amount of shine as quarterbacks, Thomas’s ability to read his team’s offense, look at the opponent’s defense, and effectively keep his teammates safe made him a hot commodity in NFL circles.
While the Giants had a mostly forgettable season, Thomas showed that he could be a valuable commodity on and off the field despite playing in a historically unforgiving position. However, when it came time to learn his team’s offense and scope out a professional defense, he had to call upon his past training in music to get ahead.
Facing the music
Growing up in a religious household, the only thing Thomas loved more than playing football was making music with his family. He spoke about this with The Undefeated. According to Thomas, music ran through his blood thanks to a constant onslaught of it in his household and community.
“Everyone in my family either sings or plays an instrument,” Thomas said. “We were always singing. Always in church, and around music constantly. Always at choir rehearsal.”
The future Giant began to take his music seriously. Sometimes, this meant balancing two worlds. Music and athletics go together in more ways than one, but managing the two takes effort. “I was pretty good,” Thomas said. “The percussion instructor at the high school told me he wanted me to quit football and come over and join the band permanently.”
He didn’t want to sacrifice either. While Thomas eventually dropped baseball and basketball to focus on his two biggest passions, he never let one take credence over the other. Sometimes, this meant learning on the fly.
“I remember being in the concert band, and we’d have to go perform in front of these judges, and one of the components was sight-reading,” Thomas told The Undefeated. “They give you a piece of music you’ve never seen before, and you’d have to perform it. They’d give you five minutes to read it and then perform.”
When Thomas made it to the highest level of football, this skill came in handy on the field, too.
Thomas bridges two worlds
Thomas spoke about how the same skills that let him play in music competitions can also help him on the field. When asked by the Undefeated about how the two relate to one another, he claims they are the same: “That translates to football. You have a script, you have a play, things you watch on film and practice. But in a game, things happen that are unexpected and you have to be able to react to that.”
It’s a sentiment he’s spoken openly about throughout his career and one that helps define him as a unique personality in the NFL. Just as Thomas does on the piano when putting notes together to play a song, he also does so to read a defense and learn an offense to do what’s best for his team.
This echoes his sentiments he shared during a prior interview with The New York Times. The relationship between his two passions helps him as a musician and an athlete. As his star begins to rise even further, it could also help him become the next successful athlete-turned-musician.