Ricardo Lockette gives heartfelt retirement speech

Ricardo Lockette has played his last down in the NFL.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday the veteran wide receiver has been forced to retire due to the neck injury he suffered in a game with the Seattle Seahawks last November. The wideout officially announced his retirement on Thursday after previously hinting at the news on social media the day before.

"Tough day for me, but I don't want anyone to be sad," Lockette said at Thursday's news conference in Seattle. "I'll be around."

Despite walking away, it was clear that the wideout is very close with the team.

"You're my brothers," Lockette said to his teammates in attendance. "We all we got."

Lockette, 29, added this about Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who was also present for his goodbye: "He was a dad to me for the last couple of years ... He led us in the right way. It's family."

Lockette -- an undrafted free agent who spent all four of his NFL seasons with the Seahawks -- was in punt coverage when he was injured on a violent block from Cowboys safety Jeff Heath during a Week 8 win. Lockette remained down on the field for several minutes before being transported to a local hospital. He was diagnosed with ligament damage in his neck and underwent immediate surgery.

Lockette entered the offseason as an unrestricted free agent and had expressed optimism that he would be cleared to resume his career. That clearance, apparently, never came. 

Lockette won a Super Bowl ring with Seattle during the 2013 season. He might be best remembered as the intended receiver on the Russell Wilson pass that was intercepted by Malcolm Butler to clinch a Patriots victory in Super Bowl XLIX. Last year, he wrote in an essay for The Players Tribune that he can't re-watch the play.

"I see that ball coming, man. I'll never stop seeing it," he wrote. "The next thing I know, I'm on the turf on my knees. I'm looking around like, Okay, it's incomplete? I look across to the Patriots' sideline, and I see Tom Brady jumping up and down. And then I look across to our sideline and I see our guys with this blank look, with their heads dropped.

"I will never forget that pain. Never."

As for his post-retirement plans, Lockette simply said he "will dedicate my time to helping those in need."

We wish Lockette the best in whatever comes next.

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