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Following months of holdouts, missed practices and demands to either get paid or be traded, Seattle Seahawks star and free safety Earl Thomas III saw his season end abruptly after he broke his leg in the Seahawks' week four win over the Arizona Cardinals. In addition to his season ending, his injury has also put his future earnings in question as the result of one life-changing play. Additionally, this injury is Thomas' second time suffering a break to his leg in the past three seasons.

Thomas ended his holdout at the start of the regular season and played in each game this season prior to his injury. In 2014, Thomas signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension with the Seahawks. This contract made him one of the highest-paid players in his position. However, this year as the contract expires, the 29-year-old Thomas—a six-time pro bowler, three-time first team all pro and a Super Bowl champion—decided that he wanted his long-term financial future with the Seahawks secured. He wanted a multi-year deal and a raise from his current contract of $10 million per season. A lack of dialogue between Thomas and the Seahawks on a new deal led to a deteriorating relationship between the two parties.

Last season, Thomas made comments asking the Dallas Cowboys to trade for him that went viral, as it was speculated that Thomas was seeking a trade due to the Seahawks not committing to taking care of him in the future. Thomas proceeded to hold out by not attending the team's training camp and preseason as a message to the team that he expects them to care for him financially for his future time in the league.

The Seahawks, however, recently had star player strong safety Kam Chancellor re-sign with a three-year $36 million extension in 2017, only to get seriously injured. The Seahawks, still paying Chancellor the money they owe him on his contract, are giving dead money to a player that is not playing, which could leave them reluctant to take a chance on an older player.

This situation between the Seahawks and Thomas is similar to the one seen with the Pittsburgh Steelers and their star running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell, like Thomas, has been seeking a large contract extension and financial security from the Steelers since the summer. But due to the two sides not agreeing on the amount of money to pay him, Bell has not played a game this season and continues to sit out while the two sides negotiate a new contract. The difference in the two situations, however, is that Bell is electing not to play until his financial situation is figured out, holding out with the team. On the other side, Thomas elected to play and prove his worth to not just the Seahawks, but to other teams who were looking to acquire him in free agency or via trade and would give him the contract security he was searching for.

As seen in week four, Thomas’s injury shows that the NFL shows little sympathy towards its players. While Bell may receive criticism from fans and teammates for sitting out while his team and teammates play, what happened with Thomas shows how millions of dollars and security from a team can be lost after one play in a regular season game, and that players have a valid reason to put their financial concerns first.

The situations between Thomas and Bell should set a precedent on how future players negotiate contracts between themselves and NFL teams. According to the NFL Players Association, the average NFL career lasts only 3.3 years. Players understand how short their time playing football can be, so in Thomas’s case, he wanted to make sure he would have guaranteed money beyond this year.

In this case, both the Seahawks and Thomas were justified in their stances. Thomas did not want to miss out on a pay raise due to an injury, which is what ended up happening. The Seahawks wanted to avoid giving a large sum of dead money to one player, which unfortunately prevented them from signing Thomas.

While there is still a chance both sides can agree on a contract, the likelihood is low. Thomas has been at odds with the team since December, and literally raising his middle finger toward the sideline after his season-ending injury is likely the bitter ending to a spectacular career in Seattle. Thomas has every right to be upset and to feel disrespected by not getting paid his worth for his talents on the field and now as he faces uncertainty in free agency.

While he may deserve the money he wanted from Seattle, it is likely that the Seahawks legend will be playing in a different uniform next season. It may be difficult for fans to see a beloved player leave their team in such an ugly fashion, but fans must remember that these players are people too, with their own financial needs and families to take care of.

It is difficult to blame the Seahawks for not paying him with the way the NFL handles player contracts. The NFL does not give players guaranteed money in player contracts the way other major sports leagues do. With the way the collective bargaining agreement is set up, the Seahawks made a business decision which may end up benefiting them in the long term. However, the NBA, MLB and NHL rarely have situations where star players are sitting out, not reporting to the team or flipping them off due to contract negotiations. The NFL needs to give players more guaranteed money to take care of themselves, their families and for their post-retirement life.

The players are right in sitting out while looking out for what is best for themselves financially. The NFL's players have short careers compared to other major sports, so players are trying to make the most money they can before they can no longer play due to age or injury. The players are showing that the NFL does not care for its players on an individual level. The NFL cannot have superstars such as Thomas and Bell sit out the entire season or publicly feud with their team if they want to please the fans.

Sports Editor

Miles Thomas is a senior communication studies major from Hermosa Beach, California. Miles is a lifelong Lakers, Seahawks and Dodgers fan. Miles enjoys playing basketball, listening to music, and hanging with friends in his spare time.

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