<
>

Ravens' Earl Thomas says 'business as usual' on his return to Seattle

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas said it will be "business as usual" in his first game back in Seattle after a bitter divorce.

"Nothing hit me yet," Thomas said Wednesday. "I'm just trying to get the game plan down and take it one day at a time and get my body right for the game. No emotions yet. Nothing has really hit me yet."

In September 2018, Thomas flipped his middle finger at Seahawks coach Pete Carroll while being carted off the field with a broken leg. This summer, Thomas told ESPN that he did so because he didn't think Carroll was being genuine when he showed concern on the field after the injury. He added that he expressed no regret over the middle finger.

"I haven't seen him much since then," Carroll said Wednesday. "Obviously he was upset. But my heart's pretty big, pretty wide open for these guys from the time we spent together and all the stuff that we do. It's way more important than something that happened, some gesture or some statement. ... I'm going to love them anyway."

On a conference call with Baltimore reporters, Carroll said he wished Thomas could've stayed with the Seahawks forever and that he was "a blast to coach."

On Wednesday, Thomas was asked if he would attempt to say anything to Carroll or anyone else on Seattle's coaching staff.

"I'm going to take it as it comes," Thomas said. "I still have a good relationship with most of the guys on the staff. I'll definitely speak if we time it up."

Carroll said he'd seek out Thomas before the game if an opportunity presented itself.

"It depends on how the day goes," Carroll said. "If we bump into each other, we will. ... When it happens, it happens."

Thomas was one of the best defensive backs in Seahawks history. He made six Pro Bowls in his nine seasons with the team and was named first-team All-Pro three times. His 28 career interceptions rank third among all players since 2010, when he was drafted by Seattle with the 14th overall pick out of Texas.

Toward the end of his run in Seattle, Thomas felt like he was being phased out because the Seahawks were investing more in their linebackers. He left the Seahawks in free agency, signing a four-year, $55 million contract with the Ravens in March.

Thomas acknowledged that he has thought about the reaction he'll get from the Seahawks fans.

"Hopefully they respect what I've done, get a couple of cheers and not too many boos," Thomas said. "Hopefully, it's love."

Said Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner: "It should be appreciation. He did so much for this organization, this team. He's a legend here. So I would expect him to be well received. He's a guy [whose] jersey will probably be retired and ... it should be a lot of respect for him."

Thomas sidestepped the question about whether it will feel weird playing in Seattle as the enemy.

"Luckily, I just love the game," Thomas said. "It doesn't matter who I'm playing for. I'm just going out there to try to win. Maybe when I get to the visiting locker room and see how it feels, maybe it will add something to that. But, other than that, it's business as usual. I'm going out there to make plays and try to help us win."