Just about everyone who watched the Seahawks last year knows that Thomas Rawls is an incredible running back. Anyone who's watched Rawls' three part interview that originally aired on Q13 FOX would be hard-pressed to say that he's not an incredible person too.
Rawls was born in Flint, Michigan, possibly the most troubled city in the United States (Flint is regularly ranked first among the "most dangerous cities in America," and most recently made headlines due to its horrific water crisis). In Rawls' interview with Bill Wixey, he spoke about how growing up in Flint has shaped his mindset:
"When I was younger, you know, just fighting through adversity at a young age, I just transform it onto the field, and my everyday life, on and off the field...when I run, and when I play, and when I talk to kids, I'm letting everything out, you know, all the pain is getting out."
Rawls is understandably upset about the current water crisis in his hometown. He spoke about the situation in Flint, and how he hopes to help:
"As far as what I'm working on, I just want to do some type of day event where everyone can come out, kids and adults. A good day, a fun day where everyone can come out, interact, and just have a good day of smiles. Everyone's sending water back home and it's a kind of negative vibe about the whole water situation, so I just want to enlighten people and bring smiles and brighten up their day, at least for a day. At least they deserve to smile, at least for a day."
Not only did Rawls battle adversity growing up in Flint, but he had to fight for a spot on the Seahawks' roster. Rawls went undrafted out of Central Michigan University, and he had some advice for players coming into this year's draft on the bubble:
"As far as being drafted or undrafted, one thing I want to tell the guys going into the draft who possibly could get drafted but may not get drafted, it's not about that...It's not about a ranking, it doesn't matter who you are, where you stand, what number you are, it's not about that. Because at the end of the day, when you reach this level, everybody's got the same opportunity. Everybody is fighting for jobs, everyone's going to lay it all on the line."
Rawls admitted that, like many of his teammates, he has a chip on his shoulder:
"When you play with a chip on your shoulder, you go out there and practice with a chip on your shoulder, you've got to prove to the world, you've got to prove to yourself, you've got to prove to everyone, ‘Hey, I don't care what you put in front of my face or in my way, that roadblock will never stop me. I will overcome anything, I will face any adversity, and it don't matter how long it takes, it's going to get done.'"
Rawls claims that his "chip on your shoulder" attitude is part of why he fits in so well in the Seahawks' locker room:
"That's the mindset I love being around, because that's my whole mentality, that's my makeup, so when I'm around these guys, we take so much from each other, we give so much to each other, and when you've got guys like that, it's hard to stop."
In the last section of the interview, an example arises of Thomas Rawls' extraordinary character: not long before flying back to Seattle to appear at the Seattle Friends of Scouting Luncheon on March 31st, both his grandmother and his great aunt died in the same week. He attended their respective funerals just days before the event. No one would have blamed Rawls if he had backed out of his commitment, given such a family tragedy. So why didn't he? While acknowledging it was difficult, Rawls said that he felt that "I still got to go, I still got to impact others, I still got so many people who look up to me, I still got to be that man that I've always wanted to be...I'm a man of my word...and when I gave the Boy Scouts my word, that's my word and I'm going to be here no matter what."
There is something quintessentially "Seahawks" about Thomas Rawls. In the interview, he comes across as almost preternaturally confident. So when Rawls states, as he does at the beginning of the interview, that "I'll be ready for camp," I think its safe to expect him there.