RENTON — Earl Thomas was late. This makes him mad.
Thomas tried to gather his family and get them moving so he could be on time for his 11 a.m. press conference at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center to officially announce his four-year, $40 million contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks.
In his rush, he was pulled over by a policeman up the street from Seahawks headquarters, right next to a sign that says, “Home of the Seattle Seahawks” with a Super Bowl champions logo recently added.
“I didn’t try to bulldog him and say, ‘My name is Earl Thomas,’ ” Thomas said. “He’d be like, ‘This dude is cocky’ and give me a ticket. But, he let me off. That’s the moral of the story.”
Thomas made it in for the press conference about 15 minutes late. He joined coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider on the stage. Eventually, he participated in a group photo that included Kam Chancellor and several defensive coaches.
The 24-year-old free safety said there was a feeling of relief after signing his extension.
“I wanted a clear conscience going into camp because I take the mental side of football very seriously,” Thomas said. “I don’t like distractions.”
Asked when the negotiations started, Thomas said the process began “out of the blue.” At one point, he texted Schneider a number and said if Schneider could meet that, they would be good. Schneider immediately said afterward he did not text Thomas back. Each laughed about it.
Thomas also said being the highest-paid safety in the league was something he wanted to achieve. In regard to that title, he said it was less about the money and more about separating himself.
The Seahawks provided Chancellor and Thomas contract extensions. Cornerback Richard Sherman, who watched Thomas’ press conference from the back, is the logical next step.
“Sherm (is) going to take care of itself,” Thomas said. “Sherm has everything under control. He’ll take care of it.”
Thomas continues to be pleased with the organization that drafted him 14th overall in 2010 out of Texas.
“It’s just a commitment,” Thomas said. “I’m very committed to this organization. I told Coach Carroll yesterday, I need you to be totally honest. I need you to be real with me because I’m a realist. You never know what you say to me that might trigger something from my past, bringing me back. It’s like that divine reassurance. Like, man, this is why I am who I am.
“I’m excited about this sport, I’m excited about everything. If I can add one more thing: People always say how come Seattle can have fifth-round or sixth-round corners and they can have so much success? Well, 2-9 (Thomas’ uniform number) is right here. I’m pushing that thing, you know? I’m dead serious. ... I say that as humbly as possible.”
Schneider said the timing of the deal had nothing to do with the draft being right around the corner.
“It was that plan (to be conservative) through free agency,” Schneider said. “I think everybody’s seen the discipline we’ve had in order to be able to get some of these things accomplished and try to keep together as many of our core players as we possibly can.”
Thomas did not attend the press conference in pads. He wore a brown suit, with a black shirt and a tie. Had he been in uniform, it would not have surprised anyone. Thomas’ passion was a repeated topic at the press conference. He said the contract, the Super Bowl win – and the resulting celebrity – only serve to boost his desire as opposed to slow him down.
“The ultimate goal is, how many times you can do it,” Thomas said. “Win something, then kind of relax? The challenge is to never relax. I never lost sight of everything. So, I don’t have to recapture what happened last year.
“It’s never enough for me.”firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @Todd_Dybas