This is one of the reasons athletes should never be begrudged for trying to get as much money as they can while they still can: their lifetime earning power can vaporize in a moment, at any moment. Seahawks wide receiver and special teamer Ricardo Lockette will announce his retirement this afternoon, his career prematurely ended by a single, scary hit that left him motionless.
In Week 8 against the Cowboys, Lockette was in punt coverage when he was hit with a big block from Jeff Heath, who was flagged for a personal foul for a blind-side hit, but was not fined. Lockette lay on the turf for more than 10 minutes before being strapped to a backboard and taken from the stadium by ambulance.
Lockette suffered a concussion and damage to ligaments and discs in his neck, for which he underwent surgery the next day. He wore a neck brace for months, and said a doctor told him he could have died, and remembered just how scary it to be down on that field.
“I’m lying on the ground. You can’t feel your legs. You can’t feel your arms. And you can’t really respond. You don’t really know what’s going to happen in the next couple of seconds. You don’t know if you’re going to black out. You don’t know if you’re ever going to get feeling in your body. You don’t know if this is it.”
Lockette was undrafted out of D-II Fort Valley State in 2011, and played mostly on special teams for the Seahawks. He did catch 22 balls for four TDs over 34 games, and was the target on the Malcolm Butler interception that ended Super Bowl XLIX.
But he’s about to be 30, and his Seahawks contract expired at the end of the season, and his neck is never going to work the way it used to. It’s an abrupt ending to a brief journeyman career that was, nevertheless, longer and more successful than most. That’s life in the NFL.