On Thursday, Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas penned an article with The Player’s Tribune where he speaks on his hold-out with the Seattle Seahawks. This is a very candid post, where Thomas not only explains what is going on with the Seattle Seahawks, but with football in general. It’s a really good read as it gets into the mind of an NFL player and why they may insinuate a hold-out, so give it a read and come back.
The gist is simple: Thomas wants the security of his job and the commitment of the Seahawks that he can finish his career in Seattle. The “Cinderella career” as I call it happens quite rarely for players, and Thomas is no exception. Even the great Joe Montana was traded to Kansas City to finish his career as the San Francisco 49ers went with the younger Steve Young. Thomas explains his terms are simple: Either give him a new deal to finish his career or trade him to a team that will.
I know many think he could just finish his deal and move on, but it’s not just that easy. A new deal with guaranteed dollars offers him some job security. There are some good examples Thomas uses for why he would hold out, most notably linebacker Lofa Tatupu:
I still remember back when Lofa Tatupu was the heart of our defense. Lofa was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around. He was great to learn from as a young player. He made all the calls and always stepped up to make big plays. He was just straight up good at his job.
And what did he get for all of that? After his sixth season with the team, they asked him to take a pay cut. When he said no, he was released.
Thomas points the Thursday Night Football game against the Arizona Cardinals as the last time fans would see Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor playing together. Chancellor’s sudden retirement is somewhat what gave Thomas a wake-up call.
Obviously, Thomas wants commitment and money before something like this could happen. This goes a bit further than just wanting a contract, having worked contracted jobs most of my professional life, knowing your job has an expiration date is hard, as when your contract comes to a close you wonder why they don’t want you around and what the future holds. Yes, Thomas makes more money than most of us can spend in our lifetime, but when football ends, so does the cash, so he needs to get as much put away now. Especially when we know how battered their bodies get through a full NFL career.
What’s interesting though about all these events is what Thomas says about the Seahawks in particular:
As a rookie, especially on these Seahawks, you’re eased into this culture of brotherhood. You develop this love and respect for the guys you play with, and the fans you play for. That makes you want to give everything to the team. And that’s a special feeling. But what you don’t realize, is that, once you’ve given everything — once you’ve gotten all those battle scars that come with success — your team doesn’t value you the same. There’s no thank yous in this league.
There’s only goodbyes.
That’s pretty powerful stuff that may paint the Seahawks in a negative light (though it’s meant to reflect on the league). I’d love to go ahead and throw out some witty insults, but the sad part is, the 49ers have gone through their own version of this when Bill Walsh was running things and if things continue to stay on course, you can bet they will go through it again with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. It’s one of the things in the future I’m personally dreading. There will come a time when John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan will have to move on from their roster and it won’t be pretty, it never is. They have fostered in a culture change and by all accounts the team has the same values of brotherhood Thomas describes in his time with the Seahawks.
The last point I wanted to bring up was where Thomas said about the nature of hold-outs in general.
Honestly, I think one of the reasons that teams treat players like they do is because they can get away with it. They’re good at placing blame on the player who’s sitting out, by making the entire process become very public and very negative toward their reputation. It’s like — I have no way of even knowing what they might be telling the press or my teammates about me. And for someone like myself, who doesn’t usually talk … that makes you feel kind of helpless.
This has certainly started to sway in a different direction. The Aaron Donald hold out in particular has given the Los Angeles Rams a horrible look when they are paying Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks serious money.
While many may not necessarily agree with Thomas holding out for a contract and instead wishing he just finish his deal and sign elsewhere, he wants security. At 29, this is probably the last good guaranteed deal he can get and he wants to be sure he’s taken care of. Thomas could get slapped with the franchise tag to extend his seasons for a year or two, but he wants a deal to finish out his career and have some security, so you can’t fault him for that.
This isn’t so much a look at how the Seahawks do business, but the NFL in general. It’s a good answer as to why the players are all about the money rather than the hometown discount.