During their days together with the Seattle Seahawks, Earl Thomas and Pete Carroll channeled the intensity and enthusiasm that helped bring the “Legion of Boom” defense into prominence.
With Carroll fist-pumping his way up and down the sideline, guys like Thomas and Richard Sherman helped turn Seattle’s defense into the most physical in the NFL for a few years. They won a Super Bowl together.
But that success obviously didn’t guarantee a lifetime of well-wishes between Thomas and Carroll and that became more than apparent last season when the safety flipped the middle finger in his coach’s direction as he was riding the cart off the field after breaking his leg in a game against the Arizona Cardinals.
It’s Thomas’ opinion that Carroll was being disingenuous in the moments following the injury when he checked in with Thomas.
“If my teammates felt like it was toward them, I regret that part,” Thomas told ESPN. “But I don’t regret doing that to Pete. … I gave Pete the middle finger because I felt like he wasn’t being honest with me.”
Carroll and Thomas have not spoken to each other since the incident. It seems the original problem was caused by Thomas’ anger about a lingering contract dispute which convinced him to skip training camp in 2018.
Thomas had been pissed with the Seahawks since 2017, at which point he still had two seasons to play on a four-year, $40 million deal. You might remember when he longingly reached out to Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett after a game in an effort to convince the Cowboys to acquire him when his deal was done.
Anyway, Thomas finally decided to show up before the team’s first regular season game last season solely because he didn’t want forfeit his $500,000 game checks. But he didn’t believe it when Carroll reassured him he was still in their long-term plans because all he’d heard previously was the team was prepared to allow him to leave.
He obviously felt the Seahawks were disrespecting him – Thomas is a six-time Pro Bowl pick with 28 career interceptions.
The Ravens stepped up big for him in the offseason offering him a four-year, $55 million deal, despite an injury that might have some impact on his play down as time moves on.
“I think my time just ran out,” said Thomas. “Pete and the front office didn’t value me like they used to, and I just talked to Coach Carroll, and he was saying how he was trying to get me in the plans of getting a new contract. But I got hurt the next week. I think I hurt myself too by my actions getting carted off the field.
“They’ll love you one minute and then hate you the next. That was our relationship.”
Carroll has been very understanding of Thomas and appears not to be carrying a grudge.
“People that are criticizing whatever happened don’t understand,” said Carroll. “This was an earth-shattering moment for a kid. He’s trying to play this game he loves, and all of sudden this happens again. He knew exactly what happened to him, so he went right to what it’s going to take to get back.”
The Seahawks host the Ravens on Oct. 20 and Thomas has already said he has no plans to seek Carroll out or apologize to him.
“I knew what happened because I had been through it before (Thomas was similarly injured in 2016),” said Thomas ” … When Pete came, trying like acting like he was concerned, I was like ‘Move on, bro.’
“It was just, we didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things like work ethic. Like sometimes I just didn’t want to practice, especially when they weren’t paying me, I wasn’t practicing like that and he wasn’t feeling it.”
Thomas said he still loves the Seahawks organization and said he hopes the team will retire his jersey.
You’d have to think flipping off the greatest coach the organization has ever had won’t win him much support.