Glenn Clark: Here’s What’s Important About The Earl Thomas Story

Truth be told, I’d prefer to not have to discuss the Earl Thomas thing at all.

I have this saying I like to use to try to describe my indifference toward these types of topics.

“People have sex.”

It’s a blanket statement I’ve made since starting in this business nearly two decades ago in response to our culture’s dangerous obsession with the sexual habits of famous people. What it really means is, “If two consenting adults aren’t doing anything illegal, I don’t care what they’re doing.”

When callers to a radio show wanted to talk about a video involving Rex Ryan years ago, my response was …

“People have sex.”

When someone would tell me a story about something they heard from a friend of a friend about what some player was doing at the team hotel the night before a game …

“People have sex.”

When someone bizarrely tried to say that the literal cold-blooded murder of former Ravens quarterback Steve McNair wasn’t the overwhelming tragedy that it most certainly was because his actions suggested “he had it coming” …

“People have sex.”

“Oh, and seek help.”

It’s the most direct way to address something that we shouldn’t have to be reminded of in the 21st century. This doesn’t concern us in any way whatsoever. If you’re consenting adults, I don’t care who you’re having sex with, where you’re doing it, how many other people are involved, what seemingly weird things you might be into, etc. That doesn’t mean I’m a “prude” or I think it’s “gross” and we should be ashamed to talk about it. Quite the opposite. It means that if you want to share something about your sex life, that’s your right. It is not my concern.

Even if you’re having a type of sex that others might think is taboo. Even if you’re having sex with someone besides your committed partner(s). Even if you’re really good looking or super famous. I just don’t care. And I realize that life isn’t always as black and white as some make it out to be.

So my initial reaction once we found out the details of the April incident involving Ravens safety Earl Thomas?

“People have sex.”

Now to be fair, I can understand why the Ravens might be slightly more interested in what occurred that night in Texas. One of their more significant employees was held at gunpoint and nearly killed by accident. That’s terrifying. They need to be certain that the problems the Thomas family is dealing with currently don’t impact their business. And they should probably care about the people involved on a human level, too.

There is absolutely no world in which (based on what we know) the Ravens or NFL would be able to “punish” Thomas based on the incident. No matter how unseemly you find it that Thomas was sleeping with someone besides his wife, he was a victim of the only “crime” allegedly committed. While he probably should have made the team aware of what had occurred so that they weren’t blindsided by it once TMZ made the details known, it would be absolutely shameful (and you would have to imagine actionable) should a team attempt to penalize someone for not immediately informing them that they were the victim of a crime. It is a standard no employer should even consider. (Think about it.)

You don’t have to think Earl Thomas is a great guy. You don’t have to invite him to lead your family bible study next week. You don’t even have to cheer for him necessarily. But you can’t try to rewrite the circumstances of the event to make him a criminal. That doesn’t work.

A small piece of advice for all of us: Sometimes it’s OK to just say “I don’t like this” instead of making yourself look like a fool for no particular reason at all. For example, maybe you don’t like not being able to go to Long John Silver’s right now. That’s OK! You can say that! You can say “I love Long John Silver’s and I don’t care if it might kill me, I want to go!” The problem starts when you take it a step further and show your ass by screaming about the constitution or pretending like you know more than doctors do.

Just say “I don’t like this.” You have every right to do that. And similarly you have every right to not like Earl Thomas. But you can’t try to create a morality clause for football players that they most certainly have not agreed to. Your personal ethics have no merit outside of your personal life.

Yet that doesn’t mean the Thomas conversation just dies. There are troubling revelations that have been brought forth. To wit, an allegation of the likely future Hall of Famer having a drinking problem. In addition to offering Thomas help with mental health or relationship counseling, the team should offer help in that department as well. Sadly, a number of high-level athletes (including beloved Baltimore Ravens) have performed quite well despite being in the throes of addiction problems. They have to want the help to overcome them (if even true).

Also concerning was a report from The Baltimore Sun that an unnamed team official alleged Thomas was a bad teammate at times last year and struggled with their defensive concepts. Ironically, he had copped publicly to the idea that the Ravens’ defense was more complex than what he was previously used to in Seattle. Many of us had significant problems with the notion of Thomas berating one of the team’s longstanding quality players (defensive tackle Brandon Williams) last season about his injury after the safety had obviously dogged it on a long touchdown run in the loss to the Cleveland Browns.

But moving on from Earl Thomas leaves the Ravens with $25 million worth of dead cap space (either all at once or spread throughout the next two seasons). None of what we know rises to a place where Thomas is so dangerous to the overall team that it would be worth making such a costly decision.

The Ravens should offer help. Earl Thomas should take that help away from the field, and if the other allegations are true, he should attempt to be a better teammate and student of the football schemes. And he’s obviously gonna have to deal with Twitter jokes for a long time, and if fans are ever allowed back to stadiums, there will be plenty of jeers headed his way.

But unless there’s significantly more that we don’t know about, that’s where this should end.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Glenn Clark

See all posts by Glenn Clark. Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter at @glennclarkradio