Last week, Seattle’s Earl Thomas bowed toward the Dallas sideline after making an interception, taunting the Cowboys for having failed to trade for him. On Sunday, Thomas made an even more pointed gesture toward his own sideline while getting carted off the field with a leg injury that almost certainly means he won’t be traded to anybody, anytime soon.
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll announced after the game, a 20-17 road win over the Cardinals, that Thomas had suffered a fracture in his lower left leg while going after a pass in the end zone that turned into an Arizona touchdown. More than a few observers speculated that Carroll was the intended target of Thomas’s gesture, a raised middle finger.
When asked about Thomas’s gesture, Carroll told reporters, “I don’t know anything about that. It’s a big stadium, it could be anyone it was aimed at.
“Earl was extraordinarily poised on the field for what just occurred,” Carroll continued. “To be so clear and so resolved, he knew what happened. He was so poised in giving back to the players and to all of us in the end.
“I don’t know what happened after that.”
In the final year of a four-year, $40 million contract, Thomas sat out training camp in hopes of getting an extension. After reporting to the Seahawks just before Week 1, he also skipped some practices once the season began, telling the media that he wanted to protect his body from possible injury.
“I’m investing in myself,” Thomas said last week. “If they [the Seahawks] were investing in me, I would be out there practicing. But I feel like if anything, I don’t give a damn if it’s small — I got a headache, I’m not practicing.”
That approach could only have heightened Thomas’s frustration when he got hurt Sunday after falling over Cardinals wide receiver Chad Williams. He suffered a similar injury to the same leg in a 2016 game against the Panthers, and went on to miss the final five games of the regular season plus two playoff games.
In last season’s visit to Arizona, the Seahawks lost safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Richard Sherman to season-ending injuries. Chancellor is now on Seattle’s reserve list, and has appeared to acknowledge that his career might be over, while Sherman signed with the 49ers in the offseason. That made Thomas the only active member left from the once-vaunted “Legion of Boom.”
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the only good news for Thomas was that he suffered a “clean, lower leg break but no ligament damage and no displacement,” according to a source. That injury was “not nearly as bad as a ligament tear would’ve been,” Rapoport added, noting that the 29-year-old safety should be back to full health “by the Super Bowl … and free agency.”
In addition to the Cowboys, the Chiefs had been reported as interested in trading for Thomas. Now any offers for him are presumably off the table and given his gesture, Thomas could be heading into an awkward recovery under the supervision of a Seattle organization for which he appears to bear considerable animosity.
“He has a lot of young fans, and that’s just not the way you deal with adversity,” NBC analyst and former safety Rodney Harrison said of Thomas at halftime of Sunday night’s game between the Ravens and Steelers.
“Yeah, we got the [win], but I feel like we was the losers at the end of the day, because we lost a Hall of Fame player, we lost a player who you can’t replace,” Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark said (via ESPN) of Thomas, who declined to speak with reporters after the game.
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