Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was on the sideline Saturday evening to watch his team for the first time since sustaining a season-ending leg injury against the Carolina Panthers in Week 13.
Thomas was stylish, wearing shades, Jordan's (one, specifically) and a very unique fur hat. On the front was his No. 29 stitched in Russian lettering that read: "Restricted Air Space. No fly zone. Restricted by Earl Thomas."
The design was not something Thomas made himself, but a group of overseas Seahawks fans hailing from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Baltic states, Germany and the Czech Republic. As Sean Quinton of The Seattle Times charted, when the president of the group, Boris Khodoh, discovered that one of the group member's friends works closely with the Seahawks safety, he didn't pass up the opportunity to send a gift. They acted fast, and sent Thomas the hat, a stuffed cat with his jersey and a letter that read the following (via Seahawks Reddit):
*Dear Earl Thomas, *
We are fans of Seattle Seahawks from the countries emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Some of us live in Russia, some live in Ukraine and Belarus (they differ from Russia as Canada differs from the USA). We have guys from Kazakhstan (it is like Texas, USA – there are also cows, cowboys and oil, but the country is four times bigger by land area), Georgia (not the one to the North of Florida, but the one to the South of Russia) and the Baltic states, our fellows are in Germany, Czech Republic and of course in the State of Washington.
*Some of us play football, some officiate and some just watch it, but all of us love the best ball game on Earth, and we are all sure that the Seahawks is the best team in the world. For many of us you are the favourite player. However, two members of our community - Darya and Xenia have another player being their favourite one, and this is Richard Sherman. Probably this choice is the result of these girls playing cornerbacks. We love you not only for interceptions and tackles, your invincible spirit - that is what is more important for us, it is great that you were able to demonstrate it in the game against Falcons. *
*The action team of our fan club "Russian Sea Hawkers" which is currently in the process of official registration could not miss the opportunity to make you a present. It is a uniform winter hat of naval pilots based on the only Russian aircraft cruiser - Admiral Kuznetsov. These guys fly multirole fighter aircrafts MiG-29K (Mikoyan MiG-29K, NATO reporting name: Fulcrum-D). We think that the coincidence of your numbers and tasks on the football and battle fields is highly symbolic. *
Members of our fan club – Ivan and Sasha, made a plush cat for you with their own hands, to be more exact it is more for little Kaleigh Rose rather than for you, so her father could be always near even when he is in another city, being on the field to show everyone his indomitable spirit and another tremendous game.
*We wish you to stay on the field for many years with no injuries, to hold Lombardi Trophy in your hands couple of times more, and to put on a gold jacket in Canton afterwards. We wish you all the best, be happy and let love, peace and harmony live at your home. *
*If it is not difficult, could you please tell your teammates that when they take the CenturyLink Field or any other field, they are supported not only by those who came to the stadium, we are also with you - watching games live on the Internet. And we are also shouting, but that is more like whisper-shout because when you play on Sunday evening, it is already the middle of working Monday in the east of Russia, and 3 a.m. in the West – so we just don't want to wake our families up shouting too loud. *
*Thank you and all the guys for giving us so much joy and hope. *
*With deepest respect and love, *
247 devoted fans from Vladivostok in the Far East of Russia to Kaliningrad in the West, from Murmansk above the Arctic Circle to Almaty in the south of Kazakhstan.
The end result? Thomas sporting the hat in front of a national audience and alongside his fellow defensive backs in the team's pregame huddle.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll noticed the hat as well and said the following of it this morning on 710 ESPN Seattle: "Yeah, I thought that was cool. That's a great story, too. I got the insights on the story last night. It was very good."
Team photographer Rod Mar shares exclusive behind-the-scenes images from the Seahawks' 26-6 win over the Detroit Lions in an NFC Wild Card playoff game on Saturday, January 7 at Seattle's CenturyLink Field.