Sunday night was a dichotomy of sorts for fans of the Seattle Seahawks. Although the arch-rival Carolina Panthers had been vanquished in epic fashion by the surging Seahawks, a gloom hung over SoDo that managed to immediately spread across the entire Pacific Northwest.
This gloom is, of course, due to the fact that Earl Thomas sustained a broken leg, eliminating arguably Seattle’s most important defender for the rest of the 2016 season. I have no doubt that Steven Terrell will prove to be a more-than-capable replacement, but it is impossible to fill the shoes of the NFL’s best free safety and personality.
As an athlete, a player, and a person, Earl stands alone as one of the most unique beings in the league. His impossible range allows the Seahawks to run almost exclusively single high coverages. There’s a reason why Ted Ginn’s touchdown(?) on Sunday was the first time in recent memory that Seattle has been beat within the deep middle third for a long score.
Time spent playing alongside his main man Kam has made a positive impression on instincts and a literal impression on receivers’ bodies:
Earl Thomas with the BOOM on Gronk. pic.twitter.com/ySkzHW9aeM— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) November 14, 2016
Yes, indeed, #29 can lower the boom whenever he damn well pleases. His visceral playing style translates into a certain pizzazz that treads a fine line between reckless and miraculous.
Earl’s ability to cover ground is unparalleled in the league. His range allows him to make plays that no mere mortal should be able to fathom in the slightest:
Running a wheel route out of the backfield, Jerrick McKinnon beats Kam Chancellor over the top on what appears to be a long touchdown reception. Thomas flies across the field and lays a hit that knocks the ball out of the back’s grasp.
I could create a gallery of mind-boggling plays that Earl has made over the course of his career. You know what? I think I might just do that.
Thank you to Mr. John Fraley for the great gifs. Check out his Golden Age Daily Play on twitter where he posts plays daily from the Golden Age. Yeah, it’s pretty self-explanatory.
The following two plays might embody the essence of Earl Thomas more than any words I could ever hope to create in my silly brain:
Earl exhibits a relentless desire to never give up – an inability to quit on a single play – that propels the Seahawks defense to profound heights. Every inch counts and Thomas understands this. On plays that should absolutely result in touchdowns, he appears out of seemingly nowhere, smacks his metaphoric gavel on his metaphoric stand, and makes magic happen.
There is a strong chance that Earl Thomas is the best player on the Seahawks. There is also a strong chance that he is a top-three personality in the NFL (sorry dude, the Bennett brothers are right up there too). He wore a crown and cloak to his wedding.
A CROWN AND CLOAK. Earl is a perfect human being and nothing you say can sway me from this statement. Let me provide more evidence:
Earl Thomas was NOT fined for hugging an official during Sunday's loss to New Orleans.— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) November 4, 2016
"THE BALL WAS GOING FORWARD!" lmao earl thomas is the best pic.twitter.com/mVJUSIWLFY— josé (@whoisjoserivera) October 2, 2016
Absolute perfection in its most potent form.
Aside from being an elite player and a character, it is clear that he is a universally respected individual.
@Earl_Thomas I've suffered a few legs injuries.... grind hard and comeback , I need your competition— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) December 5, 2016
Been watching and studying @Earl_Thomas highlights. That man truly the Prayers your way big bro.— Tyvis Powell (@1Tyvis) December 6, 2016
After sustaining his leg injury against the Panthers, Thomas posted a controversial tweet out of the locker room, suggesting that he was mulling retirement:
This game has been so good to me no regrets.. A lot is running through my mind including retirement thanks for all the prayers.— Earl Thomas (@Earl_Thomas) December 5, 2016
The sports universe, of course, collectively lost its mind when word of this tweet got out, but many failed to notice the following post:
Kam you owe me a steak . Haha— Earl Thomas (@Earl_Thomas) December 5, 2016
Pete Carroll later came out and said that Earl was in good spirits in the locker room following the injury and that he was cracking jokes. Thomas lives and breathes this game and I see no possible scenario where he is able to convince himself to retire from the sport that he loves.
Richard Sherman he has no doubts Earl Thomas will return to play next season.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) December 7, 2016
There is no rhyme or reason to me writing this piece, honestly. You all know how great this man is. You know how dedicated he is to the game he loves and the people that he cares about.
The purpose of this isn’t to sadden you in the least. It is to be thankful. We all should be thankful.
Earl Thomas has blessed the city of Seattle with his presence for the past seven years and I’m pretty confident that he’ll be around for at least a few more before he walks away from this game.
When Earl returns in 2017, better than ever, we will all rejoice.
In the meantime, I’m excited to watch Steven Terrell get the job done in center field and to observe #29 roam the sideline and traverse the rocky path to glory with his brothers. Here’s to some more hyped sideline mean-mugging.
Stay woke, Earl. Stay woke.