As much as coach Pete Carroll gushed Thursday about all that was fresh and glorious about the start of a new Seahawks season, there was no escaping the dubious news that trailed along, stuck like toilet paper to a shoe. Not a good look.
Former Seahawk and now Baltimore Ravens FS Earl Thomas said in a national interview with ESPN Wednesday that he had no regrets about flipping a televised middle finger in the direction of Carroll, with whom he said he has not spoken since Thomas’s Seattle career ended Sept. 30 with a broken leg.
“I don’t regret my decision,” Thomas said. “If my teammates felt like it was for them, I regret that part. But I don’t regret doing that to Pete.
“We got to walk with each other the rest of our lives because we won a Super Bowl together. But they’ll love you one minute and then hate you the next. That was our relationship.”
After the first practice at team headquarters, DT Jarran Reed, accused of but never charged with domestic violence by a girlfriend at his Bellevue home 27 months ago, said he was “sorry for the news” and maintained he still “disagrees” with the NFL’s decision to suspend him for six games. But he never explained anything despite repeatedly referencing “the facts” of the episode. The police report said the victim reported being grabbed by the throat and dragged by the wrist.
“In the back of my mind, I knew (suspension) was a possibility,” he said. “I was hoping we’d get an agreement that it wouldn’t be like that.”
Finally, LB Bobby Wagner made his contract-extension holdout official, showing up in sweats but participating in no drills, as he did for mini-camp. The anticipation was that a deal would be done before training camp began, which would have thwarted the here-we-go-again loop from the Thomas holdout saga a year ago. But no.
Nevertheless, Carroll evinced little concern.
“We are trying to, hopefully, come to a resolution,” he said. “There’s a lot going on. I respect where Bobby’s brain is right now. He’s trying to figure it out and take it one day at a time.”
Of the three discordant developments, Wagner’s holdout is the least concern. We know a source close to the negotiations: LB K.J. Wright.
Since Wagner is representing himself, and he and Wright are pals, Wright was asked Thursday whether he had the impression things were close.
“Yes,” he said, then smiled. We’ll go with that on-the-record statement until we hear otherwise.
Regarding the Thomas broadside, it’s understandable that he was mad at Carroll and the world when his injury seemed to compromise his contract year. But after the Ravens paid him more than he would have gotten from Seattle — four years, up to $55 million, $32 million guaranteed — Thomas made out fine. But he declined to take any responsibility for his part in the bad break-up.
No outsiders know the details of how the relationship between Carroll and Thomas deteriorated. But it’s a reasonable guess that when Thomas was caught on camera after the December 2017 Cowboys game seeking out Dallas coach Jason Garrett post-game to say, “Come get me” when “(the Seahawks) kick me to the curb,” Carroll probably offered in private his own middle finger to Thomas.
It was a reckless move by Thomas that undercut Carroll, made worse by the fact that Thomas never apologized, nor understood how bad it made everyone look.
Carroll was given a chance to respond Thursday, and passed: “I don’t have any (reaction),” he said.
Suffice to say, at the next NFL picnic, don’t pair these guys in a three-legged sack race.
The Reed episode won the day’s clumsy award. Despite a 57-page report that provided evidence and witness accounts that supports the police recommendation to charge him with assault, the Bellevue city prosecutor declined to charge, citing a lack of evidence.
But when the NFL investigation discovered enough evidence to invoke its DV penalty for first-time offenders, costing Reed more than $400,000 of his $1.1 million salary in 2019, Reed, the Seahawks and the Bellevue prosecutor’s office all look bad.
The absence of credible explanations for not issuing an arrest warrant despite the prodigious police report makes both sides appear as if they conspired together to make the topic go away.
There’s no evidence that that happened, but no sentient being can deny the bad optics, particularly in view of the NFL’s silence on why it took the league 27 months after the episode to make a ruling.
Everyone seems to be stonewalling. Including failing to mention Thursday that there was a victim listed in the report, a 21-year-old woman from Atlanta that the report said was Reed’s girlfriend for a month.
Asked if the Seahawks’ understanding of the situation differed from the police account, Carroll said, “I’m certainly not going to get in that conversation. There’s a lot of information, and it’s been a long time.
“I was kind of hoping that he wasn’t going to get fined . . . I’m disappointed for a young man who loves playing this game, he loves playing with his team, and he was involved with something that is keeping that from him. I feel bad for him.
“I have no hesitation in supporting him going down the road.”
And as Reed put it, he was “sorry for the news,” but didn’t mention he was sorry for his actions. He also didn’t think his chance for a long-term future with the Seahawks was damaged.
“I think they’ve got good faith in me and I’ve got good faith in myself,” he said. “I was raised right. I have good character. I’m a great person regardless of what the police portrays.”
If that is true, and Reed is as he and Carroll describe, it would seem that everyone from the NFL on down would do themselves a favor by offering some candor, so we can all join in on the redemption party.