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Ricardo Lockette’s bittersweet return to Seattle

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday night, Ricardo Lockette stood with his family as they raised the 12 flag, and I found that while indeed my heart was heavy, my spirit was lighter having seen him doing so well. After the violent way many of us watched his career end, I know I can’t be the only one who was so moved to see him back, even though it wasn’t in pads.

There’s also another part of me, the history buff side, that screams out that this man has a legacy that should be remembered, preserved, and appreciated. He was a special teams ace gunner. He follows in the footsteps of many Seattle Seahawks who have played on that squad from Don Dufek to Fredd Young to Alex Bannister. The Seahawks who made special teams a must-watch position.

I could go on and on about the Tyler Locketts of the world, but gunners who stop the other team’s “Lockett” get almost no credit outside their own fans.

There are no specific metrics for impact, but if there were I think Lockette would have met them in spades. He wrecked many returns all by his lonesome. I always enjoyed watching special teams just because of him. The trouble is, many of them get forgotten as time passes. It’s only natural and that’s why it’s the duty of the records keepers and historians to make sure those few get remembered.

Lockette’s career stats aren’t noteworthy as a receiver, just 22 receptions, 451 yards and four touchdowns in five seasons. (He was on the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 but did not accrue any stats.) This would tell you he just didn’t break through. This would be so wrong. I guess the more I look at it the more I wonder how there are three phases of the game but only two really get recognized. Don’t fall into that trap.

Look at the top five teams in special teams DVOA this season: Eagles, Chiefs, Rams, Lions, and Colts. They’re mostly considered “overachievers.” Kansas City could grab the one seed despite no passing offense. How does LA keep making us want to pull our hair out? Why is Detroit knocking on the door of the number two seed with few notable defensive players? How else could Indianapolis be in first place in the division with such a horrible defense and inefficient offense? The Rams, like the Lions and Vikings, are phenomenal at punt coverage. These things matter. Field position matters. Lockette was once the guy who mattered the most in those moments after years of making himself valuable in that third phase when it became clear he’d never be a consistent threat on offense.

On Sunday, as I watched Neiko Thorpe make a signature stop much in the same way the man who preceded him did, my bitterness grew for Lockette’s violent exit and how his legacy and the legacy of those who play that part of the game are often forgotten.

I’ll remember Ricardo’s contributions to Seattle. As I will the ones before him and those that come after him. Perhaps one day, as the game evolves and grows, others will too. For the Seahawks, whether it’s Thorpe, Cassius Marsh, Mike Morgan, or someone else, let’s recognize the contributions not just being made when Seattle has the ball or doesn’t or is getting it back, but when they’re relinquishing possession to the other team on a kickoff or punt and hoping for the best. Lockette and those who came before him and after are the harbingers of that hope.

Let’s give them thanks.

Thanks, Ricardo. It was great seeing you.