Earl Thomas – an invaluable part of the Seattle Seahawks’ LOB [Legion of Boom] – was injured a year ago during week 13, in a game against Carolina. If you were watching, you instantly knew how bad it was.
Almost immediately following his exit from the field, a tweet went out that left more cause for concern than the injury itself: “This game has been so good to me no regrets… A lot is running through my mind including retirement thanks for all the prayers.”
Fast forward a couple weeks to December 20th. In setting up the introduction to an interview, host Rich Eisen stated the shock many felt from that tweet.
Especially because Earl is so good.
Especially because Earl is so young.
Especially because it seems to come so effortlessly, so naturally to him.
When asked, Thomas told Eisen, “Yeah. You know, I’m kind of enjoying just waking up in the mornings without the pressure. Peace is starting to return to me, bro. I think that’s my ultimate goal in life. I just want to have peace.”
He did say that being back at the Seahawks facility had his competitive juices flowing all over again… but that didn’t make his return a done deal, either.
“I still kind of feel the same way. It’s a lot pressure when you play in this game. I play at a high level. My teammates expect me to do what I do… I never want to step out on the field half-heartedly. If I have any doubts, I don’t want to play the game.”
Now, as a Seahawks & LOB fan, my heart kind of broke hearing him say all that.
Because… it sounded like he could be done.
Most of us have NO idea what it takes to get to such an elite level. It’s not easy to be in the NFL, period. Yet alone to be one of the best safeties in the league. But unlike retired wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, Thomas wasn’t at the top of his position on a losing team. More pressure. His performance is integral not just to the season’s success, but their postseason run. The toll that takes isn’t just physically on his body, but mentally and emotionally taxing as well.
He explains further, “Everything in my life is really affected by the game… time with daughter, wife, mom, everybody. The way you eat, the way you gotta take care of your body, the constant training… It has me thinking.”
His interview also got me thinking:
Take people at their word
It’s more than just a cliché who are we if we can’t be taken at our word? Say what you mean, yes. Mean what you say, absolutely. But so many times, we have to sift through subliminal messages and mixed signals. So, when we do hear a cry for help, do we even identify it as one?
Let’s say a friend is acting out & doing something outside their normal character. Especially for them. Anything from lying, being extra needy/territorial, abusing alcohol or drugs, damaging property, saying things that could speak to self-harm, the list goes on. What do you think is going to solve the problem? Confronting the erratic behavior itself or addressing the root cause?
The answer seems obvious… but is it?
Think about the last time you got sick. The last cold, flu, etc. you had. Was your significant other focused on curing the virus itself, or did they attempt to help ease the symptoms? If they got you Kleenex, Zicam, soup, a fresh ginger/celery/apple juice, a new toothbrush & whatever else you needed, they helped lessen the symptoms. They did not, however, make the virus go away. As much as they gave you relief, the bug still had to run its course. That takes time.
If I really want to help someone, I can’t do it half-heartedly.
With erratic behavior, we slap a Band-Aid on broken leg when we try to confront it separate from the root cause. What else has possibly changed? What else is going on? If someone has gone through a devastating loss… be it break-up, death, job… it’s not that we need to excuse the behavior. But we need to acknowledge the right wound or it will simply manifest itself some other way.
Are they drinking more than normal… in an excessive & harmful way that needs to be addressed? Your intervention won’t go very far if you don’t show concern for the assault they’re trying to get over or the loss they’re trying to numb.
Has a friend or significant other been caught in a few lies? Caught stealing from you? If you address the symptom [read warning sign] without acknowledging the root, again, they may stop lying or stealing. But they will start doing something else as an outlet.
Earl Thomas explains his root when he talks about why retirement is enticing.
Did you hear it?
What we want takes effort
Our why is going to differ, person to person… but whatever we want takes intentional effort. It takes work to get to the NFL. It takes effort to stay in the NFL. It takes determination to be a good husband. It takes energy to be a great dad. It takes work to be a good son. It takes resolve to be a better man.
Are we deliberate about our professional goals?
Are we thoughtful about our personal development?
Are we purposeful about our personal relationships?
Not everyone is willing to put in the same effort… period. You don’t get to be the president of a bank doing the bare minimum. Period. You don’t get to put B- effort into dating & keep the A+ caliber partner. Point blank period. You don’t get to put below average effort into your health & fitness goals without repeating the same New Year’s resolutions year in & year out. You just don’t.
Our time can be up in a moment’s notice
Many times, we procrastinate – assuming we always have more time. More time to live. More time to forgive. More time to love. In Earl’s case, what if this injury WAS career ending? Would he still have that peace of mind he’s looking for? The peace he potentially found? Would we be content with where things were ending, if our dream job was to be lost? Would we have peace if timing on our dream job ran out without being fulfilled at all? If we had to fight to get back in the game of our dream job, or stay relevant at it, would we? If we knew we had some small window of life left, would we live it the same way we are now?
Earl Thomas didn’t get into the NFL by luck.
He didn’t win a Super Bowl ring by accident.
But what he wants is peace.
What he wants is better relationships.
What he wants is a legacy as a man, not just a football player.
Still, to delight of 12’s everywhere, a Christmas miracle:
I’ll def be back next year..
— Earl Thomas (@Earl_Thomas) December 25, 2016
And he’s proved, just as before, what a formidable opponent he is. 😉