Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas left last Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals with a left leg injury that was revealed after the game to be a lower leg fracture. He went down trying to make a play in the end zone, and was tended to on the field before being taken off on the cart.
He had an air cast on the leg, which he previously broke in 2016 in a collision with Kam Chancellor. The Cardinals scored on the play, and tied the game, 17-17, in the fourth quarter with the extra point immediately following the injury. Seattle wound up winning the game, 20-17.
Thomas, on the cart, appeared to give the middle finger in the direction of the Seahawks’ sideline. You can see that below:
Initially it was unclear who Thomas’ ire was directed at specifically, but sources are telling ESPN that the middle finger wasn’t directed at Pete Carroll, or any of the Seahawks’ staff — but rather at the entire organization as a whole.
Thomas’ teammates understood his gesture. Linebacker Bobby Wagner’s comment after the game when asked about Thomas’ injury put it in stark terms.
“That’s the crazy part of our business. If he doesn’t come, then he’s not a team player. If he does come and gets hurt, it’s he shouldn’t have come. It’s a position we get put in, often, it’s an unfortunate situation.
“If I was him, I’d be pissed off.”
Thomas has expressed some strong feelings after his last injury, in 2016. When he broke his leg against the Panthers late that season, he said that he was going to retire.
“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,” Wager added. “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.
Thomas has played very well through three games, but he’s skipped multiple practice sessions with the team in his quest for a new contract. He practiced more this week than he did the prior week, and now he may have a significant injury and no new contract on top of that.
Carroll downplayed the tense relationship between Thomas and Seahawks management after the game.
“That’s why it’s so bittersweet,” he 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.”
Had they turned things around enough to get closer to a contract resolution or a even a trade for Thomas? It seems unlikely.
Early reports are that Thomas will be able to get back to 100 percent before free agency starts.
#Seahawks star S Earl Thomas suffered a clean, lower leg break but no ligament damage and no displacement, source said. Not nearly as bad as a ligament tear would’ve been. He should be 100% by the Super Bowl... and free agency.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 1, 2018
Thomas had two interceptions in the team’s first win last week against the Dallas Cowboys. He also had one in the season opener against the Broncos. But the last image of Thomas in a Seahawks uniform will probably be him riding on that cart, middle finger in the air at the team that drafted him with a first-round pick in 2010.