As soon as he got out of the hospital, Ricardo Lockette was already focused on his future.
The Seahawks’ wide receiver and special-teams ace tweeted Thursday he’d been released from Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. That was four days after a scary hit and even scarier scene of him lying unconscious in the middle of the Cowboys’ field. Monday he had had neck surgery that took more than five hours to repair disc and ligament damage.
Lockette was unconscious on the field for multiple minutes Sunday in Seattle’s, 13-12, win in Arlington, Texas, after a hit high under the chin by Dallas safety Jeff Heath during a punt.
“Thanks for all the support,” Lockette posted on his Instagram account Thursday afternoon. “I’ve just been released from the hospital and the road to recovery has started!!! God did it #seahawks #rockette”
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Coach Pete Carroll had estimated Monday based on what the team knew from doctors at the time that Lockette was likely to spend the rest of this week at the hospital for what Carroll emphasized was a “serious” operation. Lockette had been up and around since Tuesday and responded well enough to spend the remainder of this Seahawks’ bye week through Sunday with his family. The native of Georgia had his father, Earl, and family at his side since the Seahawk arrived at the Dallas hospital Sunday; his family attended the game.
Carroll has already said Lockette will miss the remainder of this season. It remains unknown whether the 29-year-old will be able to play football beyond that — though Lockette’s writing Thursday was promising.
Heath was penalized on the second-quarter play for what referee Carl Cheffers announced as a “blindside hit,” though it was from the front. Lockette was motionless on the field for many minutes while teammates Earl Thomas, Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson joined Carroll, team doctors and local emergency personnel at his side. He was strapped to a stretcher with his helmet still on then wheeled off the field to the hospital.
Many Seahawks felt the hit was at the very least unnecessary, perhaps dirty. Defensive end Michael Bennett called it “classless, from everybody down” from Dallas coach Jason Garrett.
The NFL could per collectively bargain conduct rules with its players fine Heath more than $23,152 if it deems the hit was from the blind side, was impermissible use of the helmet or illegal launching or was a hit on a defenseless player. Carroll said it appeared to be a type of hit worthy of a fine.
The Cowboys’ website reported Heath reached out to Lockette while he was in the hospital.
“I texted him, I haven’t received a response,” Heath told dallascowboys.com. “I just told him that I have a lot of respect for how he plays. He’s really tenacious and aggressive. I really like how he plays. I just wish him a speedy recovery. I think he knows, but I just told him my intention wasn’t to hurt him. I hated the outcome of the play. I just wished him a speedy recovery.”
The Cowboys’ site reported Heath did not apologize for the scary blow.
“I’m not going to apologize for playing hard. I’m not going to apologize for the hit,” Heath told dallascowboys.com. “I don’t like the outcome of the hit, but that’s my job. The second that you start having that little voice in the back of your head telling you, ‘remember what happened last time …’ or whatever, it’ll slow you down and you’re not going to be able to do your job.”