If Earl Thomas has played his final game with the Seahawks, the lasting image will be of the safety making an obscene gesture toward the Seattle sideline as he rode toward the locker room on a cart.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said when asked about the gesture, via Brady Henderson of ESPN. “It’s a big stadium. I don’t know where it was aimed at. Earl was extraordinarily poised on the field. For what just occurred to be so clear and so resolved to — he knew what happened. But he was so poised and giving back to the players and all of us. So I don’t know what happened after that.”
Thomas fractured his lower leg in the second half Sunday. It was similar to the season-ending fracture in the same leg in December of 2016. Thomas tweeted about retirement after that injury.
This time, he expressed his emotion in a different way.
“I think we play a very, very emotional game, and I think sometimes you’ve got to allow people to have their emotions, have their feelings,” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Last time he got hurt like this, he retired, and obviously he didn’t retire. So you’ve got to let guys have their emotions. I don’t think nothing of [Thomas’ raised middle finger Sunday]. I think he has a long road ahead of him if it’s the injury that he suspects. We’re going to have his back and we’re going to support him and we’re going to be here for him.”
Thomas held out all offseason in a contract dispute, returning after the preseason. He had requested the Seahawks either give him an extension or trade him.
Thomas then sat out two practices before last week’s game against Dallas to protect himself from injury as he seeks a new deal. He still made two interceptions against the Cowboys.
But Carroll said after the last-play victory over the Cardinals on Sunday that the Seahawks and Thomas were in a “good place.”
“That’s why it’s so bittersweet,” Carroll said. “We had just turned things around and everything was going in a really positive direction and all of that, so it breaks my heart that we’re talking about this right now.”
Thomas becomes a free agent in the offseason, and the odds seem good that he will play elsewhere next season.