Two weeks after leaving the field in Dallas strapped to a backboard with a serious injury, Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette stood on CenturyLink Field's 12 Flag Pavilion waiving a towel to pump up the crowd prior to the kickoff of Sunday night's game.
If healthy, Lockette would have been on the field helping to cover that opening kickoff, but instead he is on injured reserve after having neck surgery a day after leaving AT&T Stadium in an ambulance. But even if his season is over, Lockette isn't going to have, as he put it, "my own little pity-party." Instead, soaking in so much love from fans and teammates made Sunday an "amazing, euphoric" day.
"To have that many people cheer for you and care about you, (people) that have been praying for you, is something further than my dreams could reach," Lockette said. "I'm forever in debt for that. It was one of the best days of my life."
Lockette has been around the team facility since returning to Seattle, but his pregame appearance was a surprise.
"It was great to see him," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "I thought it was a really emotional moment when he showed up for everybody, and the surprise… It was very emotional; it was fun to see him out there."
Added quarterback Russell Wilson: "This game's a lot bigger than just football. He's a true friend… We cherish him, we cherish who he is. I'm just praying that he continues to heal and continues to stay positive. He's one of the best guys I know."
Lockette admitted it has been a challenging couple of weeks for him, but said, "My life is built around adversity, so it's all about staying positive no matter the situation."
Describing the moments after the hit, Lockette called it, "one of the craziest things I've been a part of. I'm lying on the ground, can't feel my legs, I can't feel my arms, can't really respond. You don't 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 back in your body, you don't know if this is it. You just have a real blank mind, and then all the important things start to matter. You start to think about your family, you start to think about, 'am I going to be able to play with my kids again?' The important stuff. The crazy thing is, once I got my voice back and once I was able to talk again, all I cared about was winning the game."
After telling his teammates to win the game for him in Dallas, Lockette threw up an 'L' with his hand on the way off the field, the sign players use to signal, "Love Our Brothers."
"I was just on my way out and I was thinking, I can't talk to the boys, so what can I do to let them know to win the game, keep fighting, exactly what I'm feeling?" he said. "And the only thing that came to mind was love our brothers and love each other."
The picture of Lockette's hand was turned into a T-shirt that he wore Sunday, as did Wilson after the game, choosing to honor his teammate instead of wearing his usual formal postgame attire.
Next up for Lockette is six weeks of recovery before he can start the rehabilitation process. Asked if he'll play football again, Lockette said, "For sure. For sure… This will be a walk in the park for me. A little dinged-up neck? I'll be all right."
Asked again later if he expected to play football next season, Lockette said, "I expect to be a Pro Bowler."
Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette made an appearance at CenturyLink Field ahead of Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, less than two weeks removed from surgery on his neck.