NEW ORLEANS -- Joe Horn said he was watching Sunday's game when New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas channeled the most memorable moment of Horn's career: pulling a cellphone from the bottom of the goalpost to celebrate a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams.
When asked for his reaction, Horn responded with a Muhammad Ali quote.
"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life," Horn said. "That's what I want to say."
Horn and Thomas don't know each other well. Horn said Thomas didn't tell him the celebration was coming. But he said it "absolutely" meant a lot to him, and he called Thomas "my hero."
Horn said he texted Thomas and "thanked him for doing what most athletes in his position would never do."
Horn said he also let Thomas know that he ordered his No. 13 jersey to wear when he comes to any Saints events -- "hopefully the Super Bowl."
"It took a lot of courage ... and I appreciate that, and I'll never forget that," Horn said.
Horn, a Saints Hall of Famer who caught 50 touchdown passes for the franchise from 2000-06, will forever be remembered for his controversial 2003 touchdown celebration, which resulted in a $30,000 fine in an era when receivers such as Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and Horn were regularly coming up with elaborate celebrations. The penalty was harsher because it was Horn's second offense of the season, and the NFL reportedly considered suspending him.
Thomas was penalized for using a prop in his celebration, too, and he should also expect a fine, though likely a more lenient one as a first offense.
Horn was criticized by his own coach and general manager for being selfish at the time. Likewise, Saints coach Sean Payton didn't give his approval to Thomas' celebration, saying he wasn't "fired up" by it, though he was quick to praise Thomas for how well he played. Thomas had 12 catches for 211 yards in the Saints' 45-35 win.
When asked if he thinks he was more praised or criticized for his original celebration, Horn said, "I was criticized more for it because back when I did it, that was nothing that was expected. But I was more loved for it from the people who loved me and cared about me, my teammates."