The man who didn’t catch the Seahawks’ final pass of the Super Bowl also hasn’t caught a glimpse of the replay, either.
In his first public comments since the biggest misplay in Super Bowl history, WR Ricardo Lockette, in a first-person story for the Players’ Tribune, says he has deliberately avoided seeing the moment that assures him a permanent place in sports history.
Which puts him in direct contradiction to all the Twelves, who cannot not see the play, if only in their minds. Here’s part of what he wrote:
I can’t watch the film. I absolutely can’t stand to see it. People have told me it was the perfect interception. People have told me there’s a camera angle where it looks like I’m about to walk right into the end zone. People have told me all sorts of things about the last play of Super Bowl XLIX. I wouldn’t know. Whenever it comes on, I turn away.
I have the whole thing in my head anyway, second by second. I remember going into the huddle, and Russell Wilson is just looking at everybody like, Here we go. This is it. I truly believed we were about to win. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. You can’t look at Russ and not believe. I’ve never been around a more confident person. He calls a play we’d practiced all year. We ran it three times during the season in the same situation, to 100 percent completion. Perfect. Unstoppable play.
The play always goes to me. I think, Well, damn. Here we go. Let’s win the Super Bowl. I jog to the line and the stadium is deafening. I look across the line. Darrelle Revis follows Doug Baldwin to the other side. We have the matchup we want. Before I have time to think or be nervous, the ball is snapped. I take off. Jermaine Kearse sets the pick in front of me, just like we’ve done it a hundred times. I’m looking at Russ … I’m looking at Russ … I see the ball coming.
Patriots DB Malcolm Butler also saw it. And in film study, coach Bill Belichick saw it, and warned Butler in the Tuesday practice before the game that when the Seahawks stack two receivers to the right and motion a third one to the left, the pass is coming after the first receiver blocks a defensive back.
Lockette’s reference to the play working three times in the season is probably true, but none occurred in the close quarters of a second-and-goal from the one-yard line. Butler ran straight to where the ball was targeted instead of moving toward Lockette, who collided with Butler and was knocked down. Lockette continues:
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.
He is not alone. Apart from the argument of pass vs. run, the key questions were why Lockette, and why a slant pass in traffic when Lockette’s speed makes him better in the open field?
Lockette, 29, had a modest 11 receptions in the regular season and six in the postseason. But fate might have elevated him to the most infamous backup receiver in NFL history.
When Wilson in April invited a number of players to Hawaii for an off-season training session, Lockette found himself alone along a cliff overlooking the Pacific when Wilson approached.
I was standing there looking out at the ocean for a long time, and Russ walked up to me. It was the first time we’d seen each other since the Super Bowl. I told him how I’d been having a lot of sleepless nights. He said him, too. Then he looked at me and said, “We’re going to get back there, and if we’re in that same position again, I’m going to throw you the ball again. We’re going to get it done. I trust you.”
This wasn’t some rehearsed speech. There are quarterbacks out there who will say things like that, and as it’s coming out of their mouth, you know they don’t believe it. The special thing about Russ is that no matter what happens, his belief in others is beyond anything you’ll ever see in football. That matters to guys like you wouldn’t believe.
I told him, “I got you.”
At some point, it might be cathartic for Lockette to get past the pain by confronting it once and eliminating the mystery. But everyone copes differently. At least Lockette was willing to write about it — perhaps knowing he will have forever to talk about it.