Beloved-in-the-locker-room Ricardo Lockette had what his Seahawks termed “successful” surgery in Dallas to repair disc and ligament damage in his neck Monday afternoon.
“Ricardo Lockette underwent successful neck surgery this afternoon at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas,” the team’s statement said, about six hours after coach Pete Carroll had said he was going into the operation. “He is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days for recovery. He will be up and moving around as early as tomorrow and his neurological signs are all positive.”
The News Tribune has learned running back Marshawn Lynch and left tackle Russell Okung stayed behind in Dallas overnight Sunday into Monday to be with Lockette while the rest of the Seahawks flew home. Seattle’s wide receiver and special-teams ace also has his family from Georgia, who attended Sunday’s 13-12 win over the Cowboys, and a team trainer plus staffer there with him at Baylor Medical Center in the aftermath of a hit he never saw by Dallas safety Jeff Heath during a punt. The blow high on his chest immediately crumbled Lockette, left him motionless on the field for many minutes and then strapped to a stretcher with his helmet still on.
Carroll had already declared the 29-year-old Lockette’s season is over. The coach said the team doesn’t know right now whether he will play football again.
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In a far more important, quality-of-life matter, Carroll said Lockette is expected to be able to walk out of surgery and rejoin the team following a post-operative stay of about a week at Baylor Medical Center there in Texas.
“We are really grateful for our medical staff, the medical staff at the stadium, the medical staff of the Cowboys and also Baylor hospital that were able to just jump at the cause and were able to take great care of him,” Carroll said.
The coach said he talked to Lockette’s father Earl before the surgery and that the family was in good spirits, considering what Carroll reiterated was a “serious” situation.
“We are going to help him get right and turn the corner on this injury,” Carroll said.
Carroll called Lockette’s injury and scene on the field immediately after it “the most intense, emotional moment we’ve had in years” with the Seahawks.
Lockette was laid out unconscious in the middle of the field for a few moments during the second quarter Sunday. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said it was the scariest scene he’d ever been involved with on any field. Lockette, usually Seattle’s No. 4 wide receiver, had more targets (two) than top wide outs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse combined well into the second quarter. Then he was getting his usual double-team in the open field while as the gunner running down to cover a punt by Jon Ryan on the next-to-last play of the opening half.
He never saw Dallas’ Heath turn into him and lift him off his feet with a blow to the upper chest near midfield. As officials flagged Heath for a blindside hit to a defenseless player, Lockette laid motionless on the field near the Cowboys’ star logo. Seahawks doctor Jonathan Drezner rushed onto the field as soon as the play ended. He was out his side with colleague Dr. Ed Khalfayan, Carroll and most prominently among players safety Earl Thomas, Baldwin and Wilson.
Those three and Carroll stayed with the doctors, trainers and Lockette as he was loaded onto and strapped to a stretcher. Meanwhile, both benches emptied onto the field. Defensive end Michael Bennett, backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and other Seahawks angrily yelled and gestured at Cowboys for what they thought was an unnecessary and what Bennett called “classless” hit. Lockette’s helmet was still on as he was immobilized and taken from the field. Lockette pumped his right arm and raised an index finger to the hushed-then-applauding crowd at AT&T Stadium as he was stretchered off the field, to the hospital.
"It was horrible," Carroll said.
Thomas said he could see Lockette tearing up, with fears of, Why is this happening to me?
“He was talking, but you could tell it was bothering him,” Baldwin said. “He was just trying to be strong. He’s one of the most loved players in this locker room, so it definitely affected our team.
Baldwin called it “a relief” for the entire team when Lockette moved his arm and signaled while exiting the stadium.
“That’s the first thing you think about, ‘God, please allow him to still be able to walk,’” Baldwin said.
While rap music blared against in the Seahawks’ locker room after the big win in Arlington, Texas, the players were not nearly as loud or joking as they were the previous week after a blowout win at San Francisco.
Carroll said the players and coaches remain somber heading into the team’s week-long bye. The players are off until next Monday, when they will begin to prepare for their next game Nov. 15 against NFC West-leading Arizona at home.
“Really, it’s just caring, the emotional part of losing one of our guys, and knowing he has to go through major surgery,” Carroll said. “It’s emotional for us. I think it’s that family feeling, you know, when something happens in your family and get sick or whatever. Our guys responded in that way. They are very focused to continue to play the game and all of that, which we found out by the way they played in the second half.
“Today they are just concerned for him. Beyond football.”