The starting safety for the former Legion of Boom defense that was the Seattle Seahawks, Earl Thomas, was carted off the field on Sunday, October 1 with an apparent broken leg. The injury was not remarkable given that he plays in the NFL, in a violent sport played at its highest level.

However, Thomas’ reaction was remarkable. In fact, when being carted off the field, his leg in an air cast, in what he could only assume was a season-ending injury, Thomas flipped the bird to the Seahawks sideline.

This gesture was symbolic of his feelings towards team management and their refusal to renegotiate his 7 yr.

$40M contract, due to expire in the 2018 season. Although he had pleaded for a trade, the team felt no such obligation.

Do fans need to cheer for the next million dollar contract over wins and loses

Are you kidding me? Is this what the greatest fan sport in the country has come to. Do I really want to think that Earl Thomas who I am rooting so hard for every Sunday, is worried more about another contract worth $10s of millions, than making a 3rd down tackle to stop a drive? I get it.

The career span of an NFL player is between 3+ and 6 years depending on your perspective. However, every Sunday for nearly 50 years I have been an ardent fan of mostly losing franchises.

One of the only things that kept me coming back to watch my hapless losers, season after season through the 60s, 70s and half of the 80s, was my belief that all the players were trying their hardest, for the love of the game.

For the love of the game

Things began to change in the mid-80’s I suppose. Back then there was probably only 1 or 2 millionaire players on a team. However, now my understanding is that there is an average of 6 on an NFL roster.

In addition, It may be reasonable to assume that at least some of these players become leaders in the team locker room.

Is it to become our expectation as fans, that if a player becomes injured during the last year of his contract, that he may give the big F.U. to management, in public during a nationally televised game, because they wouldn’t take into consideration that he may get injured before they pay him tens of millions more, for declining production in the backside years of his career?

And, that we as fans are in effect being given the finger too; when the player makes the assumption that we also are mad at management. (for what, putting a product on the field that we love to watch every Sunday during the fall)

Short-term earnings, long-term management

I am not a believer of the limited career argument. In the case of Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks, he has played 7 full seasons; above the upper end of average longevity for a pro-football player. If one does the math he earned above $5M per year. If that player manages that income in an intelligent manner he should be set for life. His kids should go to private school, his wife or he should be able to stay at home and take care of the household if they so choose.

The spouse that wants to work can flip burgers if that’s what they want to do.

I expect ownership of the teams I root for to put competitive teams on the field or court. I hope that they will pay the most prolific players competitive salaries, in order to keep them around for their most productive years. However, I expect players on the upper end of the salary scale to manage their income amid the expectation that they will have a shorter career than the average working Joe.

If there is a windfall loss due to injury, that is part of the game. Management has to weigh many variables before deciding whether or not to pay millions more for a player in the second half of their career, and they have every right to wait until the last minute of a contract to do just that.

I for one will be much more offended by seeing one of my team’s players flipping the bird to the sidelines, while I applaud him for getting up off the field than I will for that same player kneeling during the anthem in order to bring attention to social injustice around the country.