A much-anticipated Sunday night football matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Dec. 4 saw a gruesome injury to Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. Thomas collided with his teammate and fellow safety Kam Chancellor, leading to a nasty leg injury that was later diagnosed as a fractured tibia.
Shortly after being carted into the locker room, Thomas tweeted out, “This game has been so good to me no regrets.. A lot is running through my mind including retirement thanks for all the prayers.”
Thomas is a well-respected star; consequently, his tweet provoked shock and fear in the minds of both players and fans around the league.
Because this was so soon after the injury occurred, some believe that this was no more than an impulse tweet and that Thomas was simply shocked and frustrated from his season ending prematurely. These initial feelings are common when it comes to sports injuries, and they are just the start of a rollercoaster of emotions that athletes of any sport endure while recovering from injury.
There are two major aspects to every injury: the physical aspect, of course, and the mental aspect. Despite the physical pain, the mental part tends to have a greater effect on the athlete. The emotions that are dealt with will depend on the severity of the injury, but all athletes who have experienced injury will be able to relate in some way or another.
The beginning stage of an athletic injury is denial, as an athlete may never want to admit that he or she will have to take time off to heal. Or, in the case of Thomas, he initially didn’t believe that he would ever play again.
When the reality sets in that the recovery period is longer than expected, a feeling of depression kicks in. This is perhaps the hardest of all emotions, but staying in a positive mindset will lead to the final stage of emotions: acceptance. Reaching an accepting mindset takes a different amount of time for all athletes.
Although Thomas is unable to play, he should avoid isolation and continue to cheer his team on from the sidelines. Recovering from an injury is the ultimate test of patience for athletes around the globe. Every injured athlete—regardless of the sport, age, gender or level of competition—has experienced this rollercoaster of emotions through the process of recovery.
Even though Thomas expressed his doubts and questioned his future, Seahawks fans should exhale because this thought process is completely normal. He is an athlete with a true passion for playing the game he loves, and will likely return with optimism, determination and a fully healed leg. He will once again play the way he always has.