FRISCO - "Keep us in your prayers.''
Earl Thomas' off-field issues derailed a career that a couple of years ago nearly put him in a Dallas Cowboys uniform. And while he recently insisted he’s ready to return to the NFL, another off-field issue has just come to light.
An Austin judge has issued an arrest warrant for the former University of Texas standout after police said he violated a court protective order by sending threatening messages to a woman about her and her children.
Trey Dolezal, an Austin lawyer and sports agent who represents Thomas in an ongoing divorce from the woman, said the warrant stems from Thomas reaching out to his wife, Nina, to see their children.
"They were consciously and collectively working together to see his kids," Dolezal said via the Austin American-Statesman. "I don't really understand how he could be in violation by working together to visit with his children."
But the paper reports: "Police allege Thomas violated a protective order that was issued in May 2021 by a Travis County civil court judge. That order stated Thomas could communicate with the woman only through a co-parenting phone application. The woman told police that Thomas refuses to download the application and instead reaches out to her by phone, and arrives unannounced at places she frequents.''
These sort of issues have been problematic for the long-time NFL standout, who recently declared, “I’m ready (to return to the NFL). “I’m in shape. My timing is on point – I’m proud of that.”
A conflict with his wife in 2020 put the Thomases in the public eye when she reportedly confronted him and his mistress while holding a loaded gun to his head.
Thomas said then (in a video since deleted): "Instead of talking about us, just keep us in y'all's prayers," he said.
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"Just pray for us, you know, as we go through this stuff," Thomas said. "We're back talking, I'm seeing my kids. So just keep us in your prayers."
Thomas, now 32, has not taken an NFL snap since the 2019 season, when the Cowboys joined the rest of the league in passing on signing him following his behavior-related release from the Baltimore Ravens.
Thomas, a Texas native, was selected by the Seahawks in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He spent nine years with the Seahawks, totaling 664 tackles, 67 passes defended, 28 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles.
In the spring of 2018, the Cowboys failed in an attempt to trade for seven-time Pro Bowler by offering a second-round pick to Seattle.
His desire, as expressed to ESPN, represents a challenge.
In 2019, the Baltimore Ravens signed Thomas to a four-year, $55 million contract but he played only one season with the team. The All-Pro safety played well enough - he had 49 tackles, four passes defended, two interceptions and two sacks - but the Ravens released Thomas in 2020 due to conduct detrimental to the team.
The Cowboys defense is coached by former Seattle assistant Dan Quinn, a Thomas mentor during their time there. The Cowboys this off-season re-signed Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker to serve as their starting safeties, with Donovan Wilson also in place as a rotational contributor to the first team.
As we've suggested in this space before, it might be a mistake to think of Earl Thomas as a "football player'' - and better to think of him as an individual in turmoil.