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Biggest Ravens stories of 2020: Earl Thomas released after training camp scuffle

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Just a few weeks before the regular season began, the Ravens had to do what previously seemed unthinkable. 

After an on-field altercation with fellow safety Chuck Clark on Aug. 21 where, according to reports at the time, Thomas punched Clark, the Ravens terminated Thomas’ contract on Aug. 23 for “personal conduct that adversely affected the Baltimore Ravens.”

At first, the scuffle during training camp could’ve been viewed as something typical, as a dustup between teammates during the hot and long days of training camp isn’t out of the ordinary. It is, however, unique for it to happen between teammates. 

Then, the trouble began.

It took just two days, but the entire month was turned upside down when Thomas and Clark were involved in the scuffle. According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, the incident was the latest in a line of problems for Thomas in the Ravens’ locker room. Thomas was reportedly late for meetings and unresponsive to coaching and teammates long before Aug. 21. 

After the Friday practice was over, the Ravens sent Thomas home for the day. 

The next day, Thomas stayed home from the facility as the Ravens worked on what was next for their safety, who was set to be in his second year as a Raven. Thomas then posted on Instagram (and later deleted the post) about the incident between him and Clark and said in part, “A busted coverage that I tried to explain calmly (met) with built up aggression turned into me getting into it with a teammate.”

 

Early Sunday morning, before the Ravens took the field for a practice at M&T Bank Stadium, they terminated Thomas’ contract about 48 hours after the fight at practice. 

Thomas, 31, didn’t sign with a team for the 2020 season, though it was reported the Texans and Cowboys were interested in his services.

"I think the statement speaks for itself," Harbaugh said after the release of Thomas. "There's not much more to add to that. Just planning on leaving it at that, at this point."

Safety DeShon Elliott stepped into a starting role alongside Chuck Clark, as the Ravens lost someone they’d signed to a four-year, $55 million deal about a year and a half prior. 

The release was another step for Thomas in a year of problems, as in April, his wife, Nina, was arrested for allegedly pointing a loaded gun at his head during an argument. She believed he was cheating on her and confronted him in a home. Earl was not arrested or charged in any way.

A few weeks later, Earl posted on Instagram that, while he was upset about the story being released, TMZ had details of the altercation and he wanted to do what he could to get ahead of the story as best he could.

It was a tumultuous year for Earl Thomas, a year that saw his tenure as a Raven end in late August, when no one could’ve expected it.

“Appreciate the Ravens organization for the opportunity,” Thomas said on Instagram after his release. “Had a great run....Wish things would have ended different but you live and you learn. Thank you Eric DeCosta and everyone else who played a role in bringing me to B-more. Wish you guys the best.”

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