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Sharing their success
The news that Earl Thomas was a Pro Bowl player came with a scream.
Actually, it was several of them, as coach Pete Carroll called Thomas while he was in the car.
“Coach Carroll called me, and my girlfriend was screaming,” Thomas said Wednesday, when the Seahawks’ second-year free safety talked to the media for the first time after being named a starter on the NFC squad less than 24 hours earlier.
“I was trying to tell her to keep her eyes on the road, but it was just a great experience and something I’ll never forget.”
Once the screaming was over, the reality of it set in.
“I’m 22-years old and starting in the Pro Bowl,” Thomas said. “It’s crazy. It’s a blessing.”
Wednesday was a good day to be in the defensive backs’ meeting room, as Thomas was the only Seahawk voted to the Pro Bowl, but cornerback Brandon Browner and strong safety Kam Chancellor were named first alternates – meaning they will join Thomas at the Pro Bowl for the Jan. 29 game in Honolulu if one of the players voted to the squad either can’t play or decides not to play.
“We have a very strong bond in that room, and it just feels great to be here representing those boys,” Thomas said.
Those ahead of Browner are the 49ers’ Carlos Rogers, Bears’ Charles Tillman and Packers’ Charles Woodson. So there’s a chance that either Woodson or Rogers could be spending that weekend preparing for the Super Bowl the following weekend in Indianapolis.
With Chancellor, the Cardinals’ Adrian Wilson and 49ers’ Dashon Goldson joined Thomas on the team. So if the 49ers are still playing, Chancellor could join Thomas in Hawaii.
But for now, each was not only happy to get the recognition that did come his way; he made sure he shared it with their teammates.
Said Thomas, “As a whole, we’ve been playing great together. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those guys. You’ve got guys that deserve to be here – guys like ‘Big Red’ (defensive end Red Bryant); ‘Clem’ (defensive end Chris Clemons); Kam has been playing great; both our corners (Browner and rookie Richard Sherman). I could name the whole defense. It’s just great when you have that kind of chemistry back there and everybody knows each other.”
Chancellor also arrived in last year’s NFL Draft. But while Thomas was the 14th pick overall and stepped in immediately as the starter at free safety, Chancellor was a fifth-round pick and played behind veteran strong safety Lawyer Milloy as a rookie.
Browner traveled an even longer road, playing four seasons in the CFL before signing a futures contract with the Seahawks last January and winning the starting job on the right side during training camp and the preseason.
So the other players and coaches in the NFC had just this one season to gauge the contributions of Chancellor and Browner, and deem them Pro Bowl worthy.
“That’s the real deal,” Carroll said. “I would think from the fans’ perspective, they might not know as much as the guys that are watching the film and watching these guys play every day because these guys are brand new.
“Brandon comes out of nowhere and a first-year starter for Kam, that’s a big accomplishment. So guys had to recognize what those guys did on the field this year and they’ve been that effective that they’ve been able to get past other people (in the voting). With respect to the process and the great players that are in the league, it’s a big statement about this group and the future that we can look forward to with them.”
And their defensive mates, because – like Thomas – Browner and Chancellor shared their recognition.
“I’m stoked about it, you know what I mean. Coming from where I’ve come from, to get an alternate, that’s sweet,” Browner said. “A lot of us could have been starters, if our record showed a little bit. Kam does an awesome job back there. We all play key parts in this defense. No one is more important than anyone else out there.
“It really is a group thing. We all work well together.”
Chancellor sang a similar song of unity, offering, “It all starts up front. Those guys, they give you that pass rush so the quarterback has to get the ball out fast. Those guys take on all the big, heavy blocks for us when we made the tackles. So, I mean, it all starts up front.”
There’s obviously no “I” in team. But there’s also no “I” in Pro Bowl, either, when it comes to Thomas, Browner and Chancellor.