Earl Thomas left the field on Sunday on a cart, with a cast around his leg. The Seattle Seahawks safety hasn’t exactly been seeing eye-to-eye with his employer, holding out for the entire preseason and even skipping midweek practices after the season started in an effort to avoid injury. His contract is set to expire at the end of the season, and the Seahawks have refused to offer him an extension despite being statistically one of the best safeties in the league.
Knowing that his season was likely finished (Thomas was later diagnosed with a broken leg), he offered the Seattle bench a solid middle finger as he was driven off the field.
After the game, reporters asked head coach Pete Carroll about the vulgar gesture.
“I know there’s been a lot of talk about it. People that are criticizing whatever happened don’t understand,” Carroll said according to USA Today‘s Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz. “This was an earth-shattering moment for the kid. He knew exactly what had happened to him.”
Thomas knew that his time in Seattle would be finished at the end of this year, since they refused to discuss any further contract options with him. And now he knows that his value on the free agent market is likely diminished, as prospective employers will wonder about his ability to come back from a serious leg injury at the age of 30.
“Give him a little slack. This is a very, very difficult moment that most people would never understand what this is all about,” Carroll said.
Meanwhile, Le’Veon Bell — the other notable holdout this season — made a comment on Instagram urging Thomas to get well soon, and promising to be the “bad guy for ALL of us.”