“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.
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.”
“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.