Former Fort Valley State wide receiver and track star Ricardo Lockette held a press conference last Thursday to announce that he was ending his five-year NFL career after suffering a serious neck injury last season that could have killed him.
Lockette, who played on three NFC Championship teams – two with Seattle in 2014 and 2015 and one with San Francisco in 2013 – suffered a menacing hit from Dallas safety Jeff Heath on a kickoff in a Nov. 1 Seahawks’ game last year vs. the Cowboys. He was carted off the field with a serious neck injury that doctors say could have ended his life had he gotten up or been moved by teammates. Lockette credits Seattle’s team doctors with saving his life.
The injury caused his neck to separate from his spine. He underwent surgery that fused his neck back together and has two titanium rods still in it. Teammate Marshawn Lynch, who is also retiring, spent the night with Lockette in his hospital room. Lockette said the decision to retire was not too difficult. “No,” he said, “because I love my family. And I’d rather walk.” Lockette had become a special teams’ ace and valuable reserve wide receiver for Seattle known for making critical catches in big games.
He finished his career with 22 receptions for 451 yards and four touchdowns. After his FVSU career, Lockette was signed as an undrafted free agent by Seattle in 2011 and spent one year on the Seahawks’ practice squad before being released. After practice squad stints with San Francisco and Chicago, he returned to Seattle in 2013 just in time for back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, helping the team win it’s first Super Bowl title in 2014.
As a football and track star at FVSU, Lockette won the NCAA Division II 200-meter dash in 2008 in a personal record of 20.63 seconds. He has run the 100-meter dash in 10.28 seconds and he tied for the third-fastest 40-yard dash (4.37 seconds) at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine. Lockette’s track coach at Fort Valley State, Tyree Price, has stated that, had he stuck with track, he would have gone to the Olympic trials. Lockette was an unrestricted free agent who the Seahawks had yet to re-sign.