HOW HURT MUST EARL THOMAS BE?
Like, can’t-even-walk-to-the-bathroom hurt. Either that, or coach Pete Carroll finally got through to his three-time All-Pro free safety that the best choice for the Seahawks for December and January is for Thomas to sit out the final game of November to heal his strained hamstring. Sunday in Tampa Bay will be the first game Thomas has missed in the NFL since Seattle drafted him in 2010. That’s more than 6 1/2 seasons of starting every one of 118 regular-season and postseason games. It includes Super Bowl 49, which Thomas started and finished with one fully functioning arm. A torn labrum in his shoulder made it impossible for him to raise his arm that day, and he had surgery after the game. That’s why Richard Sherman sounded assured Wednesday that Thomas would play at the Buccaneers. “You know him,” Sherman said, “he pretty much thinks he’s going to play. So he gets hurt, no stopping him from thinking he’s going to play.” But, surprisingly, it’s Steven Terrell — and not Thomas — at free safety for the first time on Sunday. It appears Thomas gets the bigger, more important picture than playing this one game in Tampa Bay. Either that or he really is crawling to get around right now.
HOW MUCH IS DOUG BALDWIN’S FINGER WORTH?
His middle one, anyway? $12,154. That’s the amount the Seahawks’ top wide receiver was reportedly fined by the league for flashing the middle digit at his team’s sideline — specifically his play caller, Darrell Bevell, while breaking the huddle in the third quarter during last weekend’s game against Philadelphia. Baldwin was miffed at Bevell calling a trick play for which Baldwin and quarterback Russell Wilson said they’d been waiting four years for the offensive coordinator to call. Baldwin couldn’t believe that when Bevell finally called for the wide receiver to throw back to the quarterback after a handoff, it was in the red zone. That took away from Baldwin a prime opportunity for another TD reception. Baldwin walked up to Bevell’s post-practice press conference off the side of the field Wednesday and posed with him wearing a goofy grin, and they both laughed off any perceived animosity over the finger or the call. “He was saying, ‘We’re number one!’ ” said Bevell, possibly the most flipped-off coordinator in the NFL. He was smiling.
WHAT LEFTOVERS DID THE SEAHAWKS LEAVE IN NEW ENGLAND?
They apparently damaged the Patriots’ beloved quarterback and their indestructible tight end. Tom Brady is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jets because of a knee injury. Many believe it is from the hit in the legs Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor gave Brady two weeks ago, and for which Chancellor got penalized, during Seattle’s 31-24 win in Foxborough. Asked if he will play Sunday, Brady went with a coy “we’ll see.” Tight end Rob Gronkowski hasn’t played since Thomas leveled him with a shoulder hit into his chest, puncturing his lung. He is questionable for the Jets game. The Patriots are well on their way to clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, setting up their road to Super Bowl 51. But along the way, they have daily reminders of the Seahawks.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THANKSGIVING GAME MEMORY?
I remember being 10 years old sitting in my basement in Ohio watching the Bears beat the Lions in the Silverdome, on a return for a touchdown on the overtime kickoff. It was the fastest OT victory in league history. I remember being a new college graduate in 1993 watching beefy Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett stupidly trying to recover a missed field goal that was laying in the snow at Texas Stadium. Lett slipped in the snow, kicking the ball for a fumble that Miami recovered for a final-second win at Dallas. But the clearest Thanksgiving game memory: being newly married and at my twin sister’s house in suburban Detroit with my family watching — and hearing, from downtown Detroit to suburban Plymouth — Steelers running back Jerome Bettis call “hea— … tails” on Thanksgiving 1998 during the overtime coin toss against the Lions. Referee Phil Luckett apparently could not hear and flip a coin at the same time. He ruled “heads is the call.” The coin landed on heads, so Detroit got the ball and drove on the first overtime possession to the winning field goal. The next week, commissioner Paul Tagliabue changed the rule and required all NFL coin-toss calls to come before the referee flips the coin. Eventually, the league also changed the overtime rule; now a team can’t win a game on a field goal on the first drive.
HOW QUICKLY IS RUSSELL WILSON’S $87.6 MILLION CONTRACT BECOMING A BARGAIN FOR SEATTLE?
The extension Wilson signed before the 2015 season is going to be a salary-cap hit for the Seahawks of $18.8 million in 2017 and averages $21.9 million in salary through the 2019 season. And it’s already becoming a steal. NFL Network reported Friday Kirk Cousins is about to get an extension worth at least $20 million annually from Washington in his extension. Uh … Kirk Cousins? Twenty million? He has won as many playoff games as you have. In his first four seasons, Wilson became a starter from week one in the league. Wilson set NFL records for most victories by a QB in his first three seasons and for playing in two Super Bowls in his first three seasons, winning Seattle’s only league title. His career record, including playoffs, is 60-23-1. Cousins? He entered the league the same year Wilson did, in 2012. His career record, including playoffs, after Washington’s Thanksgiving Day loss at Dallas: 17-19-1. Cousins has started a single postseason game — and lost it. Wilson’s deal seemed mammoth when he signed, and it still is. But it’s the way in professional sports that one man’s new, rich deal is the baseline for the next guy’s bigger contract to eclipse it. And to defy common sense.
Gregg Bell: firstname.lastname@example.org