Focus on: Earl Thomas

Posted Dec 30, 2013

Winning the Steve Largent Award caught Earl Thomas totally by surprise. But it shouldn’t have, because even Largent agrees that the Seahawks’ All-Pro free safety is the type of player and person the honor is intended for.

Earl Thomas has a definite pre-kickoff routine. So you can imagine his concern when he was prevented from running into the tunnel at CenturyLink Field that leads to the Seahawks locker room with the rest of his teammates on Sunday.

“I was surprised. I didn’t even know they were doing it,” the All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl free safety said after the game. “They were like, ‘Earl, come here.’ I’m like, ‘What are they doing? They’re throwing me off my routine. I’ve got somewhere to be.’ ”

But there was nothing routine about what followed, as Thomas was presented with the Steve Largent Award for 2013, an award that is named after the Hall of Fame wide receiver and has been presented annually since 1989 to the person “who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and integrity of the Seahawks.”

Saying Thomas was surprised by the honor doesn’t do justice to his emotional state.

“It was a humbling experience,” Thomas said. “I kind of got emotional. I tried to hide it.”

Fortunately, Thomas is much better at disguising coverages.

“I thought he was going to start crying out there on the field,” Largent said. “He was really emotional.”

That was a part of receiving the Largent Award that transcended getting the honor – he was presented the trophy by the player and person it is named after. No one, including Largent, could remember him being present for the presentation before.

“I was shaking his hand and I’m like, ‘Man, this is the guy right here,’ ” Thomas said. “I told him I wish I could hold him (in pass coverage) to see what kind of competitor he really is. We were just joking about that.

“But it was him, himself. That was a great experience.”

Thomas matched against Largent, the Seahawks’ all-time leader in receptions (819), receiving yards (13,089) and touchdown catches (100), would be no joke. It would feature all the traits that made Largent and makes Thomas such great competitors and contributors.

“Earl really is a quality guy,” Largent said. “You can see why he’s the defensive leader. He’s one of those guys who leads by example and he’s got the kind of character that you want to have in a leader.”

Since Largent was presented with the first award in 1989, the recipients have created a Who’s Who of everything that has been good about the Seahawks in the past quarter century – Mack Strong (five times, 2001-02 and 2004-06); Ring of Honor inductees Jacob Green (1990) and Cortez Kennedy (1996); 35th Anniversary team members Rufus Porter (1991), Joe Nash (1992), Eugene Robinson (1993), Brian Blades (1994), Michael Sinclair (1998), Chad Brown (1999), Bobby Engram (2007) and Matt Hasselbeck (2009); current players Red Bryant (2011) and Russell Wilson (2012); the only non-player to be honored, Mike Holmgren (2008); as well as Jeff Bryant (1992), Terry Wooden (1995), Winston Moss (1997), Ricky Watters (2000), Trent Dilfer (2003) and Roy Lewis (2010).

“It was a great experience,” Thomas said. “It was a moment I will never forget, just when you consider it was just me in the stadium and everybody (is looking at me). That’s crazy. You dream of stuff like that.”

No need to pinch Thomas. This dream-like experience was as real as it gets.