After a longer offseason than he hoped for or anticipated, but a fruitful one nonetheless, Earl Thomas is back in Seattle and ready to get back to work with his teammates as Seahawks training camp opens on Saturday morning at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.
Earl’s offseason began earlier than expected when the Seahawks were ousted from the playoffs in the divisional round, the first time they’d missed the Super Bowl since 2013. It was a bitter end to a promising season for the Hawks, as they fell short of third straight trip to the NFL’s championship game and as No. 29 told reporters this week, the loss still lingers with he and his teammates. And it drives them as they get ready to reconvene in Seattle for the start of a new campaign.
“I think when you lose like that, that just leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” he said. “I think that’s the medicine that we needed to get back to that fire pumping that we need.”
After some hard-earned time off, No. 29 threw himself back into training hard for the season, but another reprieve came in April when ET married his long-time mate Nina. The wedding was the highlight to the offseason for Earl and he took some time to enjoy married life, but come summer he resumed training while also taking some time to give back with two separate camps for kids, one in his hometown of Orange, Texas and another in Seattle. That second camp was held this week at Eastside Catholic School, when Earl returned to the Pacific Northwest ahead of the opening of Hawks Camp.
As part of both camps, Earl set out not only to teach the youth athletes techniques to play the game the right way, but also encourage the young players that it’s just as important to have fun doing it.
“The biggest thing that I want you guys to understand is we’re here to have fun,” Earl told campers. “This is a child’s game. It’s going to always be a child’s game, so we definitely need to have fun. We’re going to play well together, we’re going to learn how to be a good teammate, and we’re going to enjoy this day.”
That pep talk for those in attendance at his youth camps is a refrain that Earl lives by, and especially one that he takes into every situation on the football field. He admits that there were times last year when he and the Seahawks lost sight of that and their play suffered, but he believes they’re in the right frame of mind entering what will be his seventh training camp as a professional.
“Everybody’s in a good place. Everybody’s in a great place. People are working out,” he said this week. “It’s a ripple effect. We’re so close, we’re so tight-knit. And when we have success, everybody eats. That’s the way it should be.”
Saturday will also mark the start of Seattle’s seventh training camp under head coach Pete Carroll and ET III credits his head coach, the only one he’s had over the course of his NFL career with helping instill that “have fun” mentality in him, while also allowing Earl to grow as a player and a person.
“I’ve been with Pete since we started this thing, and he always gave me my space to grow,” No. 29 said. “He always looked off my blind spots. I think he helped me mature as a man.”
For Seattle, as a new season awaits them, the goal remains the same as it has been since Carroll arrived, and that’s to win championships. It’s a goal they’ve accomplished once, nearly did again, and after coming a little off track last season, one they feel is still well within reach. Healthy and happy after playing all of last season with limitations due to offseason shoulder surgery, Earl plans to do everything in his power to make sure the Seahawks get back to the top and accomplish those goals.
“I’m just trying to be the best teammate possible and see where that takes me,” he said. “I’m coming back with the same mentality. Try to get better, fix what we messed up on last year, and see where it takes us.”