By Simon Brady
It’s amazing how quickly windows of greatness in the NFL close. Four and a half years ago, the Seattle Seahawks had it made, and it looked as if the rest of the league would be looking up and chasing them for the next decade.
After throttling the greatest passing offense in NFL history at the time in the Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII back in 2014 with an extremely young core, it looked as if they were well on their way to more NFC and Super Bowl titles.
The staple of the Seahawks for years was the “Legion of Boom,” otherwise known as the most feared defensive secondary in NFL history. At the time of their lone Super Bowl in the era of head coach Pete Carroll the Seahawks Seattle had arguably the best cornerback in the league in Richard Sherman.
The lockdown capability of Sherman combined with the elite tandem of strong safety Kam Chancellor and free safety Earl Thomas infuriated opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks week in and week out.
At the time of the Super Bowl victory, Sherman and Chancellor were both 26 years of age, and Thomas was 25. It looked like nothing could stop them from dominating the NFL moving forward. Nothing could stop them, except themselves.
The “Legion of Boom” has gradually deteriorated over the past few years. Sherman moved on and signed with division rival San Francisco 49ers this offseason after the Seahawks had no interest in re-signing him given some serious injuries he’s endured the past few years.
Chancellor had a few awful injuries of his own, most recently a neck injury a year ago, that sealed his retirement from the NFL, which he announced this past summer. Of the three all-pro caliber players in the Legion of Boom, as of last week Thomas was the only one that remained on the roster.
Like the other former “Legion of Boom” members, Thomas’ future with Seattle was very much up in the air coming into the season, with his contract expiring this coming offseason. Like many NFL players, Thomas had a dispute with the front office regarding the financial details of his current contract, which caused him to sit out the entire preseason.
Despite being unsatisfied with his contract, understanding he could miss out on $500,000 for each game he missed and that he’s in play for new earnings from the Seahawks or some other teams this summer, Thomas has been suited up since the start of the regular season.
This past Sunday in a game versus the division rival Arizona Cardinals, Thomas’ worst fear became a reality, as he broke his leg trying to swat a pass away from the Arizona receiver. This injury will likely keep Thomas out the rest of this season, and might even end his career.
As Thomas was carted off the field, he made a gesture shocking given the delicate situation he was just put in. While being taken off the field on a stretcher, Thomas turned to the Seattle sideline and gave them the middle finger.
Although the Seattle sideline consists of the players and coaches, the gesture is definitely a shot at the front office for not securing him financially beyond this year. Thomas’ loyalty to the organization despite the contract disputes really backfired on him. Moving forward, Thomas’ NFL future is very uncertain.
Thomas’ longtime teammate and four time career pro bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner sympathized with Thomas, recognizing the difficult position he was put in. “I think it’s a crazy part of our business,” said Wagner. “If (Thomas) doesn’t come (to play) then he’s not a team player. If he does come and her gets hurt, then it’s ‘he shouldn’t have come.’ So it’s a position we get put in often and it’s an unfortunate situation.”
Simon Brady can be reached at email@example.com