Jeff Heath “felt terrible” that Ricardo Lockette was injured on his hit
Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette is out for the season, and needs surgery to repair ligament damage in his neck.
The man who delivered the hit which caused that said after the game that he meant no harm.
Via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cowboys safety Jeff Heath said he didn’t think his hit on a punt return was dirty, even though Lockette clearly see him coming.
But while many others used the post-game to argue with others about intent or their own roles in the situation, the guy who delivered the shot expressed something skin to human concern, a refreshing departure.
“When I saw that he was injured like that, and he wasn’t moving, I hated it,” Heath said. “My intention is never to hurt anyone. I was playing hard, and he was doing the same thing. I heard he was all right, and I was really happy that he was able to move after when they were taking him off. I just was praying for him. That’s about it. . . .
“I was just praying that he was OK. Scary because we’re football players, and there’s collisions and stuff like that. But we’re also men, fathers, sons. You never want to see a guy injured. Those are really scary injuries – the head injuries. I felt terrible that he was injured like that.”
Heath drew a 15-yard penalty for a blindside block, but said he thought he hit Lockette from the front. He said he didn’t know what part of his body hit Lockette, because “it happened so fast.”
While other players gathered around Lockette as he was motionless on the field, Heath stayed on the sidelines as emotions flared.
“They’re protecting their teammate, just like any guys would,” Heath said of Seattle players. “Sometimes their tempers get heated, especially in a situation like that. When I was on the side, I didn’t really hear if they were saying anything. They didn’t look very happy with me, obviously. But we would be the same way, you know. Like I said, I’m glad he’s doing all right.”
Lockette may not quite be “all right,” but the fact he had movement in all his extremities was a good sign.
And while we wait to see if Lockette’s ever going to be able to play football again after the surgery, it’s also easy to wonder how well Heath will be able to in the future.
His job as a special teamer depends on making such big hits, and it would be impossible to not have what happened to Lockette in the back of his mind the next time he’s in that position. Football players are paid to make such plays, but guilt is a human emotion, the kind men, fathers and sons are all capable of.