KAZ’S KORNER

Almost every ESPN sports show on the tube or radio has a segment about Richard Sherman’s desire to leave the Seattle Seahawks, even though he has two years left on his present contract which is worth $11.431 million for 2017 and $11 million for 2018. Nine of the 11 defensive starters are under contract for the next two years.

Sherman always seems to be the focal point of attention whether he is on the field or off. The 29-year-old four-time All-Pro cornerback for the Seahawks appears to have convinced general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll that he is 100 per cent serious about leaving the team.

Both Schneider and Carroll have made it clear publicly that Sherman is available for trade, according to an article written by Sheil Kapadia for ESPN.com on Sunday.

Apparently the Seahawks’ front office has gotten fed up Sherman’s sideline blowups last year that clearly didn’t set well with Carroll.

Sherman got into it with defensive coordinator Kris Richard after the Seahawks blew a coverage and his teammates had to rally around him to calm him down.

“On Week 15, Sherman questioned a decision to pass from the Los Angeles Rams’ one-yard line and went after Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell,” the article pointed out. He was referring to quarterback Russell Wilson’s game-ending interception in Super Bowl XLIX.

Sherman, who has never missed an NFL game during his entire career at Seattle, has been an important player on defense during the Seahawks’ recent run of success.

But the main reason Sherman makes so many good plays is because he knows if he misses a tackle or allows a big reception that his free safety is right there to back him up.

And that free safety is none other than Orange native Earl Thomas III, who made All-State at West Orange-Stark High School, All-American at the University of Texas and a four-time All-Pro in the NFL.

So if Sherman makes good on his talk about wanting out of Seattle and is traded, he won’t have Earl Thomas backing him up on his new team, telling him what the upcoming play will be and what direction it will be run. And he won’t be part of the NFL’s best defense for the past four seasons.

Although Sherman gets most of the accolades for the Seahawks’ success on defense, Earl Thomas exists and thrives in anonymity, according to a recent article on the Seahawks’ website.

“His (Thomas’) presence is regularly discussed, and though rarely ever seen, it is always felt. Those who have encountered him or aligned alongside him are quick to laud what he brings to the field,” the article stated.

“Most of the work Thomas does goes unseen because he lines up off the screen on regular broadcasts. When he executes his job as designed, the ball is unlikely to be thrown in his direction, so Thomas’ best plays don’t become highlights. But his best plays prevent the offense from getting their own highlights.”

The article points out that between Weeks 1 to 11 this season, the Seahawks surrendered completions on just 2 of 12 attempts that traveled 16 or more yards deep over the middle of the field for a total of 53 yards.

After Earl missed Game 12 and was injured for the season in Game 13 against the Carolina Panthers, those numbers swelled to 5-of-10 for 206 yards with his replacement Steven Terrell at free safety.

On the third play after they carried Thomas off the field with a broken bone in his leg, Carolina’s quarterback Cam Newton completed a 55-yard touchdown pass directly down the middle of the field on a third-and-17 situation.

“It was the type of pass Newton would have never attempted with Earl on the field,” the article said. With Thomas out of the game, Seattle played a more passive coverage than the ‘Hawks would have otherwise.

Earl may not be the biggest free safety in the NFL but one needs to be a plus athlete with the field so big and the receivers so talented to rely solely on athleticism. “Thomas’ acceleration and overall speed is unmatched across the league, but it’s his understanding of opposing offenses that accentuates his range.

“Thomas is a unique player who is at the heart of everything the Seahawks have done over the past four seasons, when they have arguably been the most dominant defense in history,” the article concluded.

As far as Sherman is concerned, if and when he leaves Seattle for some greener grass, he will realize that without Earl Thomas having his back, he will drop from being an All-Pro cornerback on the best defense in the NFL to being just another cornerback in a defense that he will have to take time to learn and understand.

Good Luck Motor Mouth!!!

KWICKIES…The Houston Astros completed their seven-game home stand to start the 2017 major league baseball season and finished with an acceptable 4-3 record. Immediately after beating the Kansas City Royals 6-5 in 12 innings Sunday, they boarded a plane for Seattle where they played a three-game series that began Monday. And after an off day tomorrow (Thursday) they go down the Left Coast to Oakland for another three-game series. Going into Monday’s series, the Mariners had won only one game so far this season, beating Houston Thursday after losing three straight at Minute Maid Park.

And while on the subject of the Astros, two of their four victories last week were won in the 12th inning. They’re bopping plenty of home runs, but can’t seem to deliver base hits with men in scoring position. Their starting pitchers are rock solid with an ERA of around 1.00, but two of their three losses came from the shaky bullpen.

The Lamar baseball team salvaged one win in their three-game series against the University of New Orleans, whipping them soundly Sunday 9-1 after being shut out 2-0 Friday and 6-0 Saturday. The Cardinals had an impressive 11-1 victory over Baylor in Waco last week and played Grambling State last night (Tuesday).

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Texans have a real good chance of landing one of the three top quarterbacks available in the upcoming NFL draft with their No. 25 pick in the first round. Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech, Clemson’s DeShaun Watson and Mitchell Trubiski of North Carolina appear to be the quarterbacks that will go in the first round. The teams that could use a quarterback will probably not be willing to squander their No. l pick and teams like Cleveland and San Francisco who are desperate don’t want to waste their first pick on a quarterback either. The article believes that by the time the Texans’ are ready to make their No. 1 selection, one of the three quarterbacks will be available. Which one is still the $64,000 question?

Congrats are in order for the Little Cypress-Mauriceville boys and the Bridge City girls’ track teams for taking first place in last week’s District 22-4A Track & Field championships held at Silsbee. The top four finishers in every event qualified for the Class 4A Area Round Track Meet which will take place next Wednesday at West Orange-Stark.

JUST BETWEEN US…After 73 straight times of failing to win a major golf tournament—and having an excuse for each one—the 37-year old Sergio Garcia finally won one. He captured the Masters traditional green jacket, beating Justin Rose on the first sudden death hole after the two finished 72 holes deadlocked at 9-under par. I took a disliking to him when he belittled Tiger Woods on national television when Tiger was at the top of his game. He also always found something wrong with the golf course when he failed to win a major event. The best thing I enjoyed Sunday was Matt Kuchar hitting his hole-in-one on No. 16 and ogling at Sergio’s fiancé whenever the cameras panned her.