Yes, Earl Thomas did a foolish thing. But that does not diminish his legacy, nor the irony of the Legion’s demise in just 11 games over two seasons, all in the same accursed joint.
As long as the topic isn’t about house secrets or the latest national story about team dissension, Pete Carroll usually has an answer for just about every question. But as to the question of losing to injury the foundational Legion of Boom in a space of 11 games over two seasons, the Seahawks coach offered little but a shrug Monday.
“I don’t know where to put it,” he said, pausing. Then he repeated: “I don’t know where to put it.”
That likely puts him in step with the 12s.
After a broken leg Sunday ended the Seahawks career of FS Earl Thomas, he abruptly joined CB Richard Sherman and SS Kam Chancellor on the Boom to Gloom list of casualties ravaged by the game. It is nearly unfathomable.
Circumstances were each a little different. But to have the end happen so swiftly in their primes, so close together in time and in personas, bewilders the logicians at MIT and the theologians at the Vatican.
And all went down in the same demon dungeon of a stadium in Phoenix, where also was played the Game That Cannot Be Unseen.
“I don’t know what that means,” Carroll said of the desert house of horrors. “I’m not making any statement about that.”
Coincidence is the only answer. But the curious human mind always searches for connections, conspiracies and con jobs. We have a ravenous need for explaining the inexplicable, for quantifying the experience, for digitizing randomness. But in fact, our feeble minds are no match for an old, cold universe where order is outlawed.
Carroll did offer some poignance about the epic sense of loss surrounding three players who combined to do feats unknown, like leading a defense that gave up the fewest points in the NFL for four consecutive years. If you don’t grasp the significance of that, you understand neither the collective bargaining agreement nor human sinew.
“They’re all such extraordinary performers for us,” he said. “Great competitors, iconic players in our community too — how they affected it with their play and our success, all the flavor they brought over the years.
“It’s just amazing they would be grouped together in getting banged up. I don’t know what to make of it.”
Sherman went straight outta Compton to Stanford to NFL oracle. Chancellor was a quiet Christian kid from Virginia with a menace that soiled laundry. Thomas brought an intensity from Texas that bent light waves around him.
They gathered in Seattle in a spectacular football combustion, and the NFL knelt before them.
Of Thomas, teammate and former foe WR Brandon Marshall mused recently: “You ever see how big his eyes get?”
Thomas generated so much personal energy that even he can’t control it. Remember the time he was so happy he hugged a referee? Best 15 yards Thomas ever lost.
Sunday, the same boil, but a different outcome, not so hilarious.
After seeing his arduous, controversial plan to land a lucrative third contract crumble after breaking his left leg in a futile defense of a Cardinals touchdown pass, Thomas was being transported via cart when he looked across the field toward Carroll and flipped the bird.
Post-game Sunday, Carroll tried to deflect a question about the target for the gesture: “It’s a big stadium,” he said, providing one of the most unintentionally funny quotes of his Seahawks tenure.
But the photo went around the internet, inspiring anger, dismay and disappointment from some Seahawks fans, as well as some contempt for Seahawks management for helping create the situation in which everyone is a loser — Thomas, the Seahawks and other teams who may have sought his services over the past nine months.
By Monday, Carroll acknowledged the gesture, and chided Thomas’s critics.
“People that are criticizing whatever happened don’t understand that this is an earth-shattering moment for a kid,’’ Carroll said on his weekly radio show on ESPN 710. “This is as emotional as you can get.
“Give him a little slack. This is a very, very difficult moment that most people would never understand what it’s about.”
He elaborated at his media session Monday afternoon.
“With all he knew about the injury, and all that’s going through his head, you’d give anybody a break,” he said. “You can have expectations for people to do exactly as you would think they should do. But until you’re doing it and understand it, you’re guessing.
“That’s exactly how I feel about it. Other players in that situations understand. I get it, and won’t pass judgment.”
Carroll is right.
Thomas shouldn’t have done it, but he did. He didn’t get the extension from the Seahawks he wanted, nor did he get traded to a team that might have paid him. Now he’s re-broken the same leg that cost him part of the 2016 after a friendly-fire collision with Chancellor. At 29, Thomas’s career is threatened, and he’s furious.
Some fans say that it was a classless way to end a splendid career, and that it diminishes his Seattle legacy. Yet Marshawn Lynch once made the same gesture to the Seahawks sidelines, and no fan thinks less of him. Lynch so popularized the crotch-grab that it trended in grade schools around the Northwest.
It’s a little early to be talking legacies, but Thomas’s body of work, as with Lynch’s, speaks much louder. If Thomas is worthy of criticism, it was his locker-room pursuit of Cowboys coach Jason Garrett 10 months ago to “come get me” that crossed a line, because it potentially undercut teammates and management.
But all of that becomes moot in light of his injury. The Seattle career has ended for a marvelous player who helped take the Seahawks to places never before reached. Sadness rules the day.
But if you can help Carroll and Seahawks fans figure out how to manage the melancholy and irony around the abrupt demise of a theatrical cabal of majestic football characters, please share.
Recurrence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma for owner Paul Allen
Nine years after he underwent treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a potentially fatal but treatable form of cancer, Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen says the disease has returned.
Allen, 65, who bought the Trail Blazers in 1988 and the Seahawks in 1997, had a blog post that said doctors are optimistic about his chances. Allen intends to stay involved with his Vulcan Inc. holding company and the research institutes that he’s founded.
Treatments can include chemotherapy, radiation and drugs.
In 1982, Allen was treated for Hodgkin’s disease a more serious condition that was a factor behind his departure from Microsoft, which he co-founded with Bill Gates.
Some personal news: Recently, I learned the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma I battled in 2009 has returned. I’ve begun treatment & my doctors are optimistic that I will see a good result. Appreciate the support I’ve received & count on it as I fight this challenge. https://t.co/ZolxS8lni5
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) October 1, 2018