Seahawks' Bobby Wagner: 'Mishandled the situation' with Earl Thomas

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said he regrets how he handled himself in response to comments that teammate Earl Thomas made after the team's blowout loss on Sunday.

Wagner called it a learning experience and a product of his emotions running hot after the Seahawks were beaten 42-7 by the division-rival Los Angeles Rams at CenturyLink Field. It was their most lopsided defeat of the Pete Carroll era.

Wagner and Carroll said the two players have since ironed things out. Thomas, though, denied that he and Wagner have spoken about the exchange.

Wagner took issue with Thomas telling reporters postgame that he didn't think Wagner should have played on his injured hamstring. In a tweet that he deleted minutes later, Wagner told Thomas to "keep my name out yo mouth."

Wagner addressed the incident at the start of his news conference on Wednesday.

"I was listening to a Kevin Hart interview last week and in the interview he was kind of talking about the way he kinda handles issues and handles things. He likes to face them head-on," Wagner said. "I don't want to run from them. I'm pretty sure ya'll going to ask, so in regards to everything that happened, do I feel like I mishandled the situation? Yeah, there was a better way of going about the situation. I coulda did better.

"It's one of those things where you live and you learn. That's kinda what it is. I think it's just one of those things; it's just a frustrating game, a frustrating situation. The game didn't go as well as we planned. Emotions get high and things of that nature, so everybody has emotions, and you can't always act on them. I'm man enough to admit that I handled the situation wrong and I will do better moving forward. But like I said, we live and we learn; I'm happy to move forward."

Wagner said he and Thomas, teammates since 2012, have since spoken and "ironed things out like we always do."

"We're focused on making sure we finished this season off right," Wagner said. "We still have a lot out there left for us, and we're excited to get back on the field."

After their loss to the Rams, the Seahawks (8-6) must win their final two regular-season games -- at the Dallas Cowboys this week and hosting the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17 -- to have any shot at reaching the playoffs for the sixth straight year. Seattle also will need help from other teams.

Thomas denied that he and Wagner have spoken about the issue.

"Wasn't no conversation," Thomas said. "It is what it is. Let's move on. How you feel, that's how you feel."

Asked if he believes things need to be patched up between the two, Thomas said, "Nah, ain't no patching. If that's what's in your heart, cool. Let's finish strong."

Wagner has been in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, despite dealing with a hamstring injury that he suffered in Week 8 against the Houston Texans. Complicating the matter is that he has a kidney issue that makes it difficult to take anti-inflammatories to manage pain. Wagner had hardly practiced for the past few weeks in order to rest his hamstring but hadn't missed any game action until Week 14, when he was forced to miss much of the second half of Seattle's loss at the Jacksonville Jaguars. His status for the game against the Rams was in question until about 90 minutes before kickoff.

Wagner said his hamstring felt no different pregame as compared to how it had felt in previous weeks. The difference, though, was that the pain didn't subside over the course of the game like it had before. He said he didn't feel like he had his usual burst. Seattle's coaches pulled Wagner midway through the third quarter, when Todd Gurley's fourth touchdown gave the Rams a 40-0 lead. Wagner finished with seven tackles.

Thomas' postgame comments about Wagner were in response to a question about whether injures had caught up to Seattle's defense on Sunday. The Seahawks were missing cornerback Richard Sherman and strong safety Kam Chancellor to season-ending injuries, while linebacker K.J. Wright was out with a concussion and Wagner was noticeably slowed by his hamstring issue. Thomas initially praised Wagner for playing through the injury.

"To be totally honest," Thomas said, "I think the guys that played, you've got to give your hats off to Wags and a couple guys that played; but my personal opinion, I don't think they should have played. I think the backups would have did just as good. But the injuries -- Kam, Sherm, K.J. -- they definitely hurt today."

Thomas was asked how much Wagner seemed to be slowed.

"I have no clue," he said. "But you normally see Wags running from sideline to sideline, and he just couldn't do it today. But I think he just waited a little bit too long to take himself out."

Wagner tweeted and then deleted: "E keep my name out yo mouth. Stop being jealous of other people success. I still hope you keep balling bro."

Carroll said Wednesday that he didn't have an issue with Thomas speaking his mind but noted that all players must abide by the Seahawks' top rule, which is to protect the team.

"He had a pretty strong opinion about something," Carroll said of Thomas. "I think he meant well. I don't think he did anything but mean well. That's all."

Wagner said his hamstring is feeling "a lot better" and that he doesn't regret playing through the injury on Sunday.

"Would I do the same thing over? I would, because I'm a fighter, I love this team, I love this game and I want to be out there. I want to be out there to help, and I felt like I could," he said. "It's not something that I would do differently. I would just make sure I adjust my alignments a little bit more so I could make some plays."