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.
It’ll be interesting to see how the 12th Man reacts to Earl’s return when the Ravens come to town. If he left the way Frank Clark did it could seem like a simple disagreement on salary and Earl is much more proven than Frank. But the Cowboys episode and being seen flipping the bird to the coach who brought a Lombardi trophy to Seattle is going to be hard for some to forgive, at least initially. At the very least it will be a mixed greeting.
Reed’s suspension should serve notice to players. Your actions off the field can have an effect on your career. Good or bad. And in this case to his team also. At least no one was seriously hurt.
Wagner is now the third Seahawk from the championship team to be his own agent. He seems to be handling better than Russell Okung did, probably learning from Okung’s mistakes and possibly getting advice from Richard Sherman. I’m predicting this gets taken care of by early next week. Looking forward to his next plumbing commercial. https://media0.giphy.com/media/a3zqvrH40Cdhu/giphy.gif
For fans, how a player leaves is important. A significant chunk of Mariners fans have never forgiven Griffey for his two Seattle departures.
I doubt Reed’s suspension will have any impact on others. Most young people in their 20s, male and female, are vulnerable to impulse. It takes mistakes in living life to temper behavior.
We can’t know about Wagner until we see his deal.
Fans are fickle, and time flies by quickly. A significant chunk of Mariner fans never saw Griffey play. Earl Thomas will be greeted somewhere between Lenny Wilkens’ return, and ARod watching dollar bills flutter around the on-deck circle. And then we’ll forget. Today’s LeVeon Bell is yesterdays Ocho Cinco.
True. Who out there laments Shaun Alexander? He was NFL MVP.
Of course he never explained anything. He had much to lose, and nothing to gain, by any such “explanation.” Any first-year law student would know that.
From a legal standpoint, yes. From a public figure standpoint, especially an athlete seeking a second contract, he needs to do more. Acknowledging the victim would be a start.
The sophistication of the game played at its highest level with the spectacle of its production and economic enormity belies the age of most of its players. They have a lot left to learn about life, and yet they’ve already seen and done things in their early twenties that most of us never will.
Life is different for a pro athlete. It’s no excuse to misunderstand societal standards, right from wrong, but it still must be learned through a vacuum of eventual privilege that started way back when they were first recognized as being great at their sport.
Earl, you still need to learn the difference, as a pro player, between loyalty and love.
Jarran, you perhaps have learned that staying out of trouble also means staying out of the way of trouble. I’m fearful that you may not have learned that, unless you’re fighting for your life, do not put your hands on a woman. Just don’t. No matter how harmless you may think it is, without her invitation, no good can come of it. (Just ask Joe Biden.)
Bobby…. I got nothing. I wish I were Bobby Wagner.
Thomas started grousing about his contract more than two years ago. He believes himself the best, as he should, and wanted immediate salary gratification. Doesn’t work that way, but how many NFL players have we seen fail to understand that? They think they are exceptional, rating an exception from the salary cap. But the NFL isn’t baseball.
Regarding Reed, as I wrote above, impulse control in a 23-year-old is often not a lot more refined than in a 3-year-old.
When his shirt’s off, you’ll really wish you were Bobby Wagner.
Bad looks of the day – Thomas is still holding a baseless grudge against a great coach, generally regarded as a players coach, and simply is showing what a shallow punk he truly is. Great player, of course, tacky individual, definitely.
The Bellevue prosecutor – Earned himself admission to the Hall of Shame, Charter Member. What could he have been thinking?
My guess on the prosecutor is she had no cooperation from the victim. Still . . .
Thomas isn’t a punk or tacky, but he is self-absorbed to a point where he doesn’t quite see the consequences of his actions on himself and others.