Earl Thomas, who if he retired today would likely already seem a given to someday end up on the team’s Ring of Honor, is out for the rest of the season with a broken tibia suffered last Sunday against Carolina.

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Injuries are an unavoidable reality of every sport, but maybe nowhere are they more prevalent than in football, where “Next Man Up’’ is a phrase that coaches and organizations cling to, even if some players cringe at its implication that they are all easily replaceable parts.

But while coaches and organizations have no choice but to immediately move on, some parts are obviously far more difficult to replace than others.

Which brings us to Earl Thomas, for several years now regarded by many around the NFL as being the least replaceable part on the Seahawks other than quarterback Russell Wilson (recall defensive coordinator Kris Richard this week calling the free safety position “the foundation” of the team’s defense).

Thomas, who if he retired today would likely already seem a given to someday end up on the team’s Ring of Honor, is out for the rest of the season with a broken tibia suffered last Sunday against Carolina.

It’s an injury as significant as any in the Pete Carroll era. Given that it comes in a season when the Seahawks have legitimate Super Bowl hopes, it’s also as potentially meaningful as any in the team’s history.

As might be expected, Seattle coaches and players this week said the expected — that while Thomas will be greatly missed, they see no reason they can’t still have the same success they had been envisioning before he was hurt.

Asked how the team feels about moving on with Steven Terrell at free safety in place of Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman said, “We’re incredibly confident.”

The Seahawks, if they wanted, could also lean on the memory of a few times when other Seattle sports teams overcame similarly significant injuries to key players to go on to great success, as well.

Here’s a look at three times a Seattle sports team lost a player of significant magnitude yet still went on to great success:

1984 Seahawks

What happened: Running back Curt Warner, the 1983 AFC Rookie of the Year after setting a team record with 1,449 rushing yards (in fact, he also won one AFC Player of the Year award), was lost for the season to a major knee injury in the first game of the year.

What happened next: A team that had gone 9-7 the year before and then made a miracle run to the AFC Championship Game was expected by many to collapse without a Warner-led running game.

And, in fact, the Seahawks never really did replace Warner’s running despite taking such measures as signing aging vet Franco Harris. David Hughes ended up leading the Seahawks in rushing with just 327 yards, which remains the lowest total to lead Seattle in any non-strike season.

But what the Seahawks instead did was adapt as coach Chuck Knox shed his “Ground Chuck’’ label to let quarterback Dave Krieg throw at will. Krieg had 32 touchdown passes, a team record not surpassed until last season by Wilson. Meanwhile, a Kenny Easley-led defense created an astonishing 63 turnovers — still second-most in NFL history — to help power Seattle to a 12-4 record that remains tied for the second-best in team history.

1991 UW football

What happened: Quarterback Mark Brunell, a few months removed from winning MVP honors in the Rose Bowl, suffered a major knee injury in spring practice.

What happened next: A UW team thought by many to have legitimate national-title aspirations turned to little-used sophomore Billy Joe Hobert — who had just six pass attempts in his career — to take over for Brunell. Hobert joined the best defense in school history and a veteran offense as the Huskies didn’t miss a beat in going 12-0 and winning a share of the national title.

1995 Mariners

What happened: Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. broke his wrist on May 26 with Seattle at 15-12 in a season deemed critical to determining if the Mariners would stay in town.

What happened next: Journeyman Alex Diaz filled the center-field role with solid defense and just enough hitting, while breakout years by the likes of Randy Johnson and Edgar Martinez kept Seattle afloat until Griffey returned. Seattle was 50-50 when Griffey came back and then caught fire to finish 79-66 and win its first AL West title, which helped keep the Mariners in Seattle.

The Seahawks could also look to a more recent example — the success of this year’s Sounders, who lost superstar Clint Dempsey in August yet on Saturday played for the MLS title, newcomer Nicolas Lodeiro giving the team a late-season boost.

Thomas will be missed. But even if the Seahawks won’t be the same without him, history shows that teams — good ones, anyway — tend to find a way.