Carroll on Earl Thomas: It's fun to go against ex-players

The last time Earl Thomas was on a field with Seattle Seahawks players his day ended on a cart with a broken leg. He left flipping the bird to coach Pete Carroll, who he felt was disingenuous about wanting to give the safety a new contract.

"Obviously he was upset," Carroll said Wednesday, when asked about Thomas' gesture on Sept. 30, 2018 in Arizona, via the Seattle Times. "But, my heart's pretty big, pretty wide open to these guys from the time we spend together and all the stuff that we do. It's way more important than some gesture or some statement. ... I kind of have space for them to be themselves and how they do it and how they handle it -- I'm going to love them anyway."

Thomas said this summer he didn't regret giving Carroll the middle finger, but after nine years in Seattle, the 30-year-old noted all the great seasons he had wearing a Seahawks jersey.

The game's premier centerfielder during his time in Seattle, Thomas returns Sunday wearing a purple Baltimore Ravens jersey. Even though he held animosity towards Carroll, Thomas holds no ill will toward the organization.

"They gave me my first shot. I won so many games there, grew up as a young man there," Thomas said Wednesday. "So, I'm always going to respect that organization and always going to be a part of it."

Sunday's tilt will be underscored by the Thomas' return. The veteran practiced for years against Russell Wilson, making the matchup a chess match to track this week. Will the veteran safety prove the antidote to Wilson's MVP-level magic?

"Earl was a great football player for us in the years he was here. We loved what he did -- his uniqueness and his style of play," Carroll said. "The way he practiced and his focus was somewhat unmatchable. We just couldn't stay together forever, you know. Couldn't figure out how to do that. But wish him the best and looking forward to (Sunday)."

Added Carroll: "When we know guys, we like playing against them. You've got relationships and it's fun to see them out there and it's fun to go against them. There's nothing we like more than beating the guys that we love."

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