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Seahawks 30 under 30: Earl Thomas is truly one in a million

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NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks have a very good roster, but what's especially nice and hopeful about their team is that the vast majority of current Seahawks are young and signed through 2017, at least. This series leading up to the regular season opener on September 11 will take a closer look at 30 such players, all of whom won't be turning 30 this year.

Player: Earl Thomas, S

Age: 27

How acquired: First round pick (14th overall) out of Texas in 2010 NFL Draft

Free agent: 2019

I can’t quantify the amount of value that Earl Thomas brings to the Seattle defense. That’s like asking me to quantify the amount that I love my mother or the value that Seinfeld brought to the television and comedy landscape in the 1990s. There aren’t words, anecdotes, or numbers that will adequately paint a picture of what Thomas means to the NFL, let alone the Seahawks’ franchise.

Not even Michelangelo could paint that picture.

The best I can do is lay out a few facts:

  • Thomas has made the Pro Bowl in five of his first six seasons. He’s one of just about four dozen defensive players to ever do that, including the likes of Junior Seau, Ronnie Lott, Ray Lewis, Reggie White, and Cortez Kennedy. The only time Thomas didn’t make the Pro Bowl was his rookie season in 2010, when as a 21-year-old, he had five interceptions and 76 tackles as one of only three or four defensive players (depending if you count Kam Chancellor, who was a backup only) who’d still be in Seattle when they actually got good. He had a very solid argument for making the Pro Bowl that season, which would have made him one of only eight defenders to make the Pro Bowl in each of their first six seasons; six of the other seven are in the Hall of Fame and the other is future Hall of Famer Patrick Willis.
  • He’s been a first team All-Pro three times in six years. He was on the second-team in one of the other years and was a PFF second team All-Pro in one of the other years. Someone has had him as being at an All-Pro level in five of his six seasons.
  • As arguably the best (but at least second-best) defensive player on his team, Thomas has helped lead the Seahawks to ranking first in points allowed for four straight seasons.
  • There’s this old meme:

But I think the reality is that more than anything else, it is true that everybody is better because of Earl Thomas. When you take his legendary quickness and pair it with his relentless motor and his Rockefeller-like work ethic to become the best safety in the NFL, you end up with a player who lets all 10 other players on the field know — without having to think once about it — “I’m doing my job.” Kam Chancellor doesn’t have to wonder if Thomas is covering the area of the field that he’s capable of covering but he also knows that Thomas covers an area as large as any safety in the NFL. The same goes for Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, Bobby Wagner, and so on. It’s also true that those players are so gifted that Thomas has to do even less, but he clearly showed in 2010 and 2011 that he was still capable of lifting up third-tier defensive players.

Thomas is one of those rare players — and I would say that there are maybe only 20 or 25 of them at any give time — who possesses both the natural gifts that maybe one-in-a-100,000 humans are born with and a work ethic that never lets him rest on those gifts. If Thomas was lazy, he’d still probably be a very good NFL safety. If Thomas wasn’t all that fast, but worked as hard as he does now, he’d still be a very good safety. But because he is both of those things, he’s one of the best safeties the game has ever seen.

He makes his teammates better. He makes the Seahawks better. Hell, he makes me and you better. Earl Bless Us, Everyone.