One of the most frightening moments of this past NFL season came in Week 6, when Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette took an absolutely brutal hit from Cowboys safety Jeff Heath. The collision came on a second quarter punt, during which Lockette — also a Seattle special teams player — was defending the return. Heath caught Lockette at midfield, delivering a vicious blow that left him lying motionless on the turf.
Ultimately, Lockette was carted off the field and didn’t play another snap for the rest of the season. This week, though, he revealed just how much worse things could have played out.
I didn’t really realize how serious it was until it was over, because the doctor told me my skull was—all the muscles, all the ligaments that connect my vertebrae and the cartilage, in between that. So, the cartilage was out, the ligaments torn. And he said, if I were to have stood up then, the weight of my head, left, right, front, back, I would have died. If one of my teammates would have came over and pulled my arm, just barely, I might have died. If the returner at the time would have broken a couple tackles, and they would have moved and fell on me, I would have died on the field. But what saved my life was the trainers.
Yeah, um, that’s absolutely terrifying. Even with all of the controversy surrounding the NFL and the safety of its players recently, there has never been a death directly caused by a single hit on the field. It’s horrifying to think about how close that was to not being the case anymore.
Thankfully, Lockette underwent successful neck surgery following the incident and, though he’s still in a neck brace, he’s still hoping to return to football. He’s also making sure to thank all the medics and trainers who came to his assistance and helped keep him — and possibly his football career — alive.
“They did it perfectly by the book. The way they held my neck. All the training saved my life,” Lockette said.
“Because if they had gone too far to the left or moved me without stabilizing this or that then I would have been dead. So I thank God that I’m here and thank you guys for the work that you do and if there is anything I can do to help you save another life, me, my teammates, my family are your workers.”