Earl Thomas has already gone through his own self-assessment.
He says some of his teammates need to do the same.
The Seahawks’ All-Pro free safety revealed some of his behavioral health most all-star players wouldn’t bring up on their own in the middle of a game week — in any professional sport.
Thomas said when he was at the University of Texas through the 2009 season he was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He said that determination came as a relief after two-plus decades of battling self-esteem issues.
The medical profession commonly characterizes ADHD by difficulty maintaining focus, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. He is still getting treated for it today in suburban Seattle while as one of the best at his position in the NFL.
“It’s something I’ve battled my whole life,” the 26-year-old Thomas said. “And I’m finding out more and more about it as I keep getting help.”
Then Thomas talked about what needs to change with the 4-5 Seahawks, starting with Sunday’s home game against San Francisco (3-6). He said some need to view themselves differently and conduct themselves in a more selfless way.
“It’s an attitude, a mindset. You’ve got to give it up for the next guy,” Thomas said. “It’s not showing up all the time like that. ... People have got to get out of their own way and give it up for the team.”
Thomas said that message has “been sent” but didn’t elaborate how.
“But you are talking about grown men here,” he said. “They’ve got to make it up in their own mind so they can bring their best to the ballclub.”
Has Thomas seen this need to be more selfless in the past? Or is this new during this struggling season, one that began with his partner at safety, Kam Chancellor, holding out for the first two games — both losses?
“I just think it’s kind of tough, you know, when you have so much success that we’ve had (and) you’ve been known as this type of player and that type of player. You know, sometimes you’re not who you think you are, in some cases,” Thomas said.
“But I just think overall we’ve got to give it up for each other.”
This is a remade Thomas talking, one who has overcome self-esteem issues he said he had while living most of his first two decades with ADHD.
“I didn’t find out until college. I always wondered why everything was so hard, why I was always daydreaming,” he said. “My teachers always told me, ‘You can do it. You can pay attention a little harder.’ And it was always something was wrong.
“I’m glad I’m getting help for it now.”
Thomas credits Seahawks coach Pete Carroll for how the diagnosis in his late teens/early 20s changed his life.
“At the time at Texas, I mean, I didn’t think two things of it. I just kept going — and kept struggling,” said Thomas, who majored in education while at UT for three years; he left following his redshirt sophomore season to become the Seahawks’ 14th overall pick in 2010.
“But Coach Carroll introduced me to a doctor named Ted Mandelkorn. He’s been helping me out a lot.”
Dr. Mandelkorn practices at the Puget Sound Behavioral Medicine clinic on Mercer Island.
“I just think it was in looking after our guys, and caring for them,” Carroll said Friday. “We realized that he needed some help and so we’ve just understood.
“We’ve been through this with a lot of guys over the years and understood the upside that can happen, the transition that happens for young people that get that chance to get the help they haven’t had through a lot of their life. It’s a really cool thing that happens for people.”
Carroll said Thomas has become a better player because of the treatment with Mandelkorn on Mercer Island.
“He’s benefited tremendously and just allowed himself to be more consistent,” Carroll said, “and really an all-out football player.”
Thomas said Mandelkorn’s biggest accomplishment has been improving the Seahawks star’s view of himself.
“Just understanding what I have. I’m not weird,” he said.
“A lot of self-esteem issues and frustrations.”
Thomas recently started an initiative inside his charity, the Thomas Sports Foundation, to target children and teenagers with ADHD. The beneficiaries will be kids in Seattle and in his hometown of Orange, Texas.
“This is the first year I’ve kind of put my hands on it, put my rhythm into it,” Thomas said.
A common treatment for ADHD is Adderall. The drug has proven to improve an ADHD patient’s concentration, impulse control and attention span. Adderall includes amphetamine salts, and thus can be a stimulant if taken by those without ADHD.
The NFL bans Adderall unless it grants a player a waiver after he informs the league he has a prescription and documented medical condition that requires the drug.
Thomas was asked if that part of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs has been an issue in his ADHD treatment.
“I don’t know. I think you still, with me, I’m still going through it and seeing what’s out there for me, within the game,” he said.
RICHARDSON OUT AGAIN
Carroll said following Friday’s indoor walk-through practice that he hopes speedy second-year wide receiver Paul Richardson may be able to return to practice from an injured hamstring before next weekend’s home game against Pittsburgh. Richardson is out for Sunday against San Francisco.
He came off the physically unable to perform list last weekend to make his season debut against Arizona. He then strained his hamstring while sprinting down the sideline to catch at 40-yard pass from Russell Wilson.
“He’s got a hamstring that we’ve got wait to see him what we can get him to do next week,” Carroll said.
RB Marshawn Lynch missed practice for the third consecutive day to get treatment on an abdominal muscle that’s pained him for more than a week. He played through it last weekend against Arizona, and the Seahawks expect him to play through it again on Sunday even though he is officially listed as questionable. Asked if he expected Lynch to play against the 49ers, Carroll said “Yes. He’s questionable — with a positive bent.” … Carroll said former Washington Husky Kevin Smith, promoted Tuesday off the practice squad, will be “in the rotation” and make his NFL debut at wide receiver Sunday. This time last year Smith was loading FedEx trucks in his native Los Angeles area. … If the Seahawks want nickel DB Jeremy Lane to come off the physically unable to perform list to make his season debut against San Francisco they need to activate him and make a corresponding subtraction from the roster by 1 p.m. Saturday. Carroll said the team was still mulling that option.