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Ricardo Lockette feared he would die after neck injury

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01: Ricardo Lockette #83 of the Seattle Seahawks waves to fans while being carted off the field in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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In May, former Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette announced his retirement, saying he would never fully recover from a neck injury that he suffered in a November 1 game against the Cowboys. Lockette now says that injury felt like he was in a car wreck, and that he worried he might die right there on the field in Dallas.

Lockette writes for the Players Tribune that he couldn’t hear, couldn’t move and couldn’t feel anything after the hit, which left him wondering: “Am I deaf? Am I paralyzed? What is going on? Am I about to die?

As people often do in such times, Lockette immediately thought of his family.

“Now, all of a sudden, I can’t move. And the only thing that mattered to me in the entire world was being able to see my family again, to hold my kids in my arms,” Lockette writes. “Then I remembered something that broke my heart. My daughter was in the crowd. It was her 10th birthday. She wanted to come down to Dallas to see me play. Now she was watching her daddy lying on the field, surrounded by teammates and trainers.”

It turned out that Lockette would be OK, healthy enough that he was playing basketball within a few weeks after surgery to repair his damaged vertebra. But he’ll never be healthy enough that it would be safe for him to play football again. Lockette discovered the hard way what every player knows, at least in the back of his mind: Every play in the NFL could be your last.