The Seahawks destroyed the Panthers 40-7 at home on Sunday night to move to 8-3-1 on the season and maintain a commanding first-place lead in the NFC West. But they sustained a huge loss in the process. During the first half of the game, safety Earl Thomas suffered a broken leg after running into teammate Kam Chancellor while defending a pass thrown to Carolina tight end Greg Olsen and had to be carted off the field by Seattle’s medical staff. Thomas is one of the most important players on the defensive side of the ball for Seattle, and he will now likely miss at least six weeks with his injury, if not longer.
We say "if not longer" because there’s a chance Thomas could miss the remainder of the 2016-17 NFL season if his leg doesn’t heal quickly enough. And according to him, there’s also a chance he could be done playing football altogether following his injury. Shortly after he discovered that his leg was broken, Thomas sent out this tweet indicating that retirement could be in his future:
Thomas also joked that Chancellor owes him a steak after what happened:
Thomas was obviously very emotional when he sent out those tweets, but coincidentally, Marshawn Lynch was at the Seahawks’ game on Sunday night, serving as an example of a player who retired before he really had to.
So would Thomas, who, at 27, is just three years younger than Lynch was when he retired earlier this year, really ready to give up the game of football? Thomas’ coaches and teammates don't think so.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that he’s "not so sure" about the idea of Thomas talking retirement but added that he was "not surprised" to hear him make such a bold statement after suffering a devastating injury. "I’m not surprised that he said something like that," Carroll said. "Earl’s apt to say something that might surprise you, and he did."
Richard Sherman said that he had talked to Thomas after the game and that he thought him tweeting about retirement was an "exaggeration" that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. "We all talked to him. He’s in good spirits. He’s a strong-willed dude, so he’ll be fine," Sherman said. "All of us consider retirement just about every game. And when you get an injury like that, a lot of stuff goes through your mind. I would think it’s a little bit of an exaggeration."
Chancellor talked about how Thomas is going to have to take some time to himself to really think about his future before making a decision that’s as important as retiring. "When you get injured, it becomes very emotional," he said. "Sometimes you say things you might not mean. Sometimes you say things you might mean. It’s one of those things you just have to let him sit back and breathe, let him sit back and go through the process. People are going to take it how they’re going to take it. At the end of the day, he’s going to make the decision he wants to make; but right now, it’s an emotional battle at this moment."
Thomas—who has been with the Seahawks since 2010—had never missed a game in his NFL career until just recently. He suffered a hamstring injury against the Eagles in Week 12 that forced him to the sideline. And it’s worth noting that, while dealing with that injury, he sent out this tweet indicating that he missed being with his team:
After taking some time to reconsider this latest injury, Thomas very well might decide not to retire after all. But it’s clear that, even though he’s still got a lot of life left in his career, retirement is, at the very least, on his radar at this point in time.