The talented Seahawks cornerback will sit the next four games after getting busted for violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. This violation apparently wasn’t for using a performance enhancing drug, but a recreational substance. At least Thurmond wasn't cheating the game, instead he was cheating the 12th Man, his teammates and the organization that has stood by him through multiple significant injuries in the early stages of his career. His thanks to all of them, a conscious decision to roll the dice and put a championship season at risk.
With the New Orleans Saints in town next week for a massive game that could determine home field advantage through the NFC playoffs, the Hawks will try to contain one of the game's greats in quarterback Drew Brees with an injury/suspension depleted defensive backfield. When starting cornerback Brandon Browner (suspended four games last season for using Adderall) went down recently with a serious groin injury, there was relief in knowing that Thurmond was ready to fill in. The former Oregon Duck is clearly one of the best nickelbacks in the league and a likely starter on many teams. His misfortune here is nothing more than playing behind Browner and star Richard Sherman.
Thurmond's decision to allegedly light one up at the risk of home team is an irresponsible act of selfishness that demonstrates an extreme lack of professionalism. He's far from the first and far from the last professional athlete to make a short-sighted and potentially costly decision. Let me be clear: I have no moral qualms with Thurmond to use pot, if in fact that's what he did according to some media reports. And a recent election in this state indicates that most residents don't have a problem with it either.
However, when the terms of your employment in the NFL say you can't travel down that smokey road, you simply cannot do it. Thurmond knows it, ignored it and now pleads for understanding in a series of tweets in which he attempts to shift attention to those criticizing him.
So many judgmental people out there and I bet they call themselves Christians. Yes I made a mistake and I have to live with the consequences— walter thurmond III (@WaltThurm3) November 24, 2013
I'm disappointed in myself for letting my teammates and family down.— walter thurmond III (@WaltThurm3) November 24, 2013
Yes, Walter, we've all made mistakes, but others missteps don't excuse or explain yours. Thurmond's decision further damages the Seahawks already tarnished image around the NFL. His suspension is the seventh drug-related penalty for a Seahawk since 2010. Among those who've made that list of shame: Vai Taua, John Moffitt, Allen Barbre, Winston Guy, Brandon Browner and Bruce Irvin.
For all the people that talk trash, unfollow me please. I BEG YOU— walter thurmond III (@WaltThurm3) November 24, 2013
Here's what Pete Carroll had to say about his team's rash of suspensions last May: "It takes a giant commitment. Guys have to really be in it for the right reasons, to do things right. So, a couple of things came up today in the media that gets out about our guys, some issues that we've had - this is a challenge, this is a challenge for us, this is a challenge for the league.... And I'm really disappointed that we have to deal with anything like this. But there's going to be other issues, too, and we are going to have to deal with them."
That prediction has come true.
For an organization, that to its credit goes out of its way to acknowledge and appreciate the support of its rabid fan base, this string of suspensions is an embarrassment at best and infers a lack of control at worst. The decisions by the players to put themselves at risk of suspension shows a complete lack of respect for their head coach, teammates, fans and for an owner in Paul Allen , whose commitment to them is beyond reproach in the NFL.
So here we are, one week away from the team with the best record in the NFL at 10-1 playing one of the most important games in franchise history and we're talking about a talented player making a remarkably stupid choice that threatens the dream that Seattle's first Super Bowl win is just over two months away. And all of it put at risk because one player who apparently underestimated just how important he was or could be to his team decided the rules of NFL didn't mean as much as his desire to have a good time.
Pete Carroll's right when saying it's as much an NFL issue as a Seahawks issue, but that issue looms larger when your team has the best record in the league. With injury inducing violence of the NFL and just plain bad luck always looming as large threats to a championship run, for any player to take himself out of the game is beyond disappointing.