From devastation to ‘dream’ for Seahawks’ Thomas

Published on August 1, 2010 by     

From devastation to living a “dream.”

Earl Thomas(notes) doesn’t need a financial adviser to tell him what he should do with the $21.1 million, five-year contract—including $12.32 million guaranteed — that the Seattle Seahawks gave the 14th overall draft choice late Saturday night.

He doesn’t need to be reminded why, as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says of Thomas, “he’s really serious about his football.”

The 21-year-old safety already has a large chunk destined for a new house for his parents, to replace the one destroyed in 2005 when Hurricane Rita ripped through Orange, Texas.

Moving his parents out of a tiny bedroom in his grandparents’ place in Orange is the reason Thomas left the University of Texas two years early.

“It’s just a dream come true. I’m happy for my family and for the whole Orange, Texas, back home,” he said Sunday after his first practice of training camp.

Since the hurricane, his parents have lived cramped inside a tiny bedroom that Thomas says should be the living space for a small child. It’s inside Thomas’ grandparents house in Orange, a border town with Louisiana off Interstate 10 between Lake Charles and Beaumont. His grandfather is a pastor at the Sixth Street Community Church there.

Now, after years of his folks taking care of him, Thomas can begin taking care of them. His parents have already browsed the housing market in and around Orange. But now that their son’s deal is done, Thomas says shopping can turn into buying.

“We’re going to be on that pretty soon,” he said.

“It took a while, but at least I beat Russell in here,” Thomas added wryly.

“Russell” is Russell Okung(notes). The sixth overall pick remains unsigned in what is becoming an increasingly frustrating situation for Seattle. The team drafted the brick wall from Oklahoma State to replace retired All-Pro Walter Jones(notes) at left tackle, yet perennial backup Ray Willis(notes) is there.

And Okung is nowhere in sight.

Carroll said the Seahawks’ offer is a strong one, and he hinted that it fits appropriately between the $34 million guaranteed safety Eric Berry(notes) just got from Kansas City as the fifth overall pick and the $26 million guaranteed cornerback Joe Haden(notes) received from Cleveland as the No. 7 choice.

“I mean, it’s pretty clear how this should go,” said Carroll, who also has executive vice president and personnel power in Seattle. “We’re absolutely ready to get it done right away. They’ve got to pick up the phone.”

Carroll sounded far more pleasant talking about Thomas.

The coach said that because Thomas is such a serious, conscientious kid “he doesn’t let you know how happy he is, but you know.”

Thomas missed the first two practices with the Seahawks, who plan to have the second of their two first-round picks starting at safety this season alongside Lawyer Milloy(notes).

The 36-year-old Milloy was a freshman playing baseball at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., when Thomas was born in May 1989.

“I’ve always dreamed big,” Thomas said quietly, “but I never thought it’d come this early.”

Though he arrived late to camp, Thomas showed up in a big way immediately after taking the field. In one of his first scrimmage plays, he showed his 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash by zooming across the back of the secondary. He lowered his head and violently separated starting tight end John Carlson(notes) from the ball on a well-thrown pass from Matt Hasselbeck(notes) down the hashmarks.

While Carlson looked around to figure out what happened, Thomas shook his head and then let out a screeching “Whooo!” Teammates and the 2,500-plus fans in attendance—an environment similar to what Thomas enjoyed during coach Mack Brown’s practices in Austin—roared over the hit.

“I got thrown into the fire, with full pads and everything,” Thomas said. “I kind of got into a collision, just to get back into it. I felt good just to get my feet wet again.”

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