Heading into the 2021 free agency, the Raiders were in desperate need of a defensive upgrade on all fronts. Less than 10 days into free agency, they signed DT Solomon Thomas; a move that would be praised for months if not years to come.
Thomas started his NFL career as the third overall pick in the 2017 draft. He spent the first four seasons of his career in San Francisco with the 49ers but was an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season. Thomas signed a one-year contract with Las Vegas. So far, he has played exceptionally on the field, but his off-the-field presence is equally as impressive.
His Season So Far
Thomas has matched and exceeded many of his career highs through only seven weeks of the regular season. He has three sacks (T-7th) and two forced fumbles (T-1st). Both are career highs for Thomas.
Thomas’ pass rush grade is 71.3 and he is consistently making quarterbacks feel the pressure while opening holes for his teammates to make massive plays week after week. Many fans regard Thomas as one of the best free-agent signings this offseason. He is only under contract for the Raiders through 2021 but look for that to possibly be extended.
Off the Field
Solomon Thomas, like many Raiders, has his own foundation. Thomas runs a nonprofit called The Defensive Line Foundation. Thomas started the foundation in the 2021 off-season to remember his late sister, Ella. Ella inspired Thomas to create this foundation to bring awareness to mental health and suicide.
Last Thursday at his press conference, Thomas announced he will be donating $8,000 to the Defensive Line Foundation for every sack he has this season. On Friday, he did an interview with NFL Network and Good Morning Football talking about this decision and sharing more about his foundation.
“The mental health word is very personal to me. I lost my big sister, Ella, in 2018 to suicide and I know what it’s like to see her go through pain. I know the just like that for my family and the pain that we go through every day from losing Ella. So, with everything going on with COVID and knowing what these kids are going through and the isolation, the anxiety, the depression, all the uncertainty going on in this world. We knew how important it was to use my platform to make sure kids knew there was a light. TO let them know that they’re not alone. And to teach anyone, any coach, any teacher, any facilitator, anyone above the youth in this world.” Thomas told GMFB.
All proceeds to the Defensive Line Foundation are put towards suicide prevention workshops. These workshops are dedicated to teachers and coaches to give them the tools to create positive environments for youth mental health. The attendees are also taught how to identify risk factors and are encouraged to create a crisis response plan. Thomas has pushed the envelope and has provided some of the most crucial people in children’s lives the tools to keep them safe.
“I’m going to teach them how to have the language to talk about mental health and how to create a safe mental health environment for the children and for their students and for their players. I’m going to show them the crisis resources they need to show them how to look out for signs and how to know if their children are youth are struggling” Thomas says about the suicide prevention workshops his foundation hosts.
Thomas’ efforts are supported by the Las Vegas Raiders organization as Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia said on Monday that the team has prioritized player mental health this season.
“ I learned a lot about myself and mental preparation. I have two different mental coaches I work with. I learn to meditate better; I learn to journal better. It’s really unlocked that part of the game for me. I’m starting to get more comfortable on the field.” Thomas told Good Morning Football. Thomas practices what he preaches as he works hard to improve his own mental health.
Not only has Solomon Thomas had a career year on the field, but he has also made a major impact off the field. If you want to learn more about The Defensive Line Foundation, you can do so here (https://thedefensiveline.org/).
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