Tyler Lockett pushes back against criticism for avoiding a hit

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals
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Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett is taking flak for not taking a hit on Sunday. On Friday from Germany, Lockett hit back.

The issue arose in the second quarter of the game against the Cardinals. On third and 16, Lockett caught a pass from quarterback Geno Smith. Lockett was 10 yards short of the line to gain. He ran toward it, deliberately falling a yard or two short as multiple defenders converged.

Fans who don’t have to deal with the consequences of, for example, moving in one direction while being hit by two players moving in the other direction, criticized Lockett.

“This was like one of the first times I fell short of a [first] down and everybody just thinks I always fall short,” Lockett said, via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. “I just think, for me, people don’t understand how physical the game of football is or how physical it can be. Yeah, you can take hits or you can choose not to take hits. When I was in college — I told you guys this before — one of my coaches, Andre Coleman, was like, ‘Look at Torry Holt. Look at Isaac Bruce. They catch what they can, they get what they could get and then they get down.’

“A lot of people could call you soft or whatever the case is, but they don’t understand the things that we see when you’re done playing football. When people talk about CTE or people talk about injuries and having to get all these different surgeries after they’re done. Everybody wants you to put your body on the line. For what? Your entertainment? Your amusement, whatever? For us, we put our bodies on the line every single day and so just because you don’t make a first down doesn’t mean whatever the stuff is that people say.”

He’s absolutely right. But he also said that, in this specific case, he didn’t take the hit because he believed he’d gotten as far as he needed to get.

“I thought I had the first down, you know what I mean?” Lockett said. “I don’t see the yellow line like everyone else gets to see. So on TV, I get it. But they make TV easier for anybody to know. What’s the first down? They’ve just got to get to that yellow line. For me, I just made a mistake. I didn’t get the first down. I should have got the first down. Things could have been different, but I did it, you learn from it, you keep it moving. But this game is also about durability and if you’re not able to go because you’re not healthy, then it’s the next man up. So I try not to get too caught up in it because people don’t know the injuries I’ve been dealing with, like when we talked about the last couple of weeks and all that type of stuff. They’re just like, ‘You should have done this, this and this.’ So you’ve just got to take it with a grain of salt, but you can’t please anybody, especially the Internet.”

It’s a shame that Lockett had to defend himself. But he’s right. Fans want to be entertained, amused, satisfied, etc. And that’s before considering the impact of a given play on someone’s fantasy team.

If we’ve learned nothing else over the last decade, it’s that supposed “business decisions” made by players are also “medical decisions.” A player has to make a quick assessment in real time as to whether to risk taking a hit and getting injured or live to play another down.

And it’s definitely not a matter of courage. Anyone who puts on a uniform and steps onto the field has more of it than 99.99 percent of the population.

Maybe that’s the first question those who choose to criticize players for passing on getting blasted should ask themselves.

Would I take that hit?

34 responses to “Tyler Lockett pushes back against criticism for avoiding a hit

  1. I actually think most fans would take the bargain of being paid millions and millions of dollars to have to take hits. It’s just that we are not talented enough to be offered that deal.

  2. I think Lockett is a really good player but Kittle or Deebo would not have gone down that easy. It’s not about the fans, it’s about your team. If you are thinking about your health you are ignoring the fact that your teammates are putting themselves on the line to win.

  3. Tyler Lockett is talented as hell. And skinny. The more hits he takes, the more likely he’ll be injured and out of the lineup. That will hurt the team a hell of a lot more than him missing a few yards because he gets down rather than smash into a guy that outweighs him by 30-60lbs. This isn’t just a smart medical or business decision, it’s a smart football decision. It’s important to remember, he still makes tough catches over the middle knowing he’s going to take a hit. He doesn’t alligator arm stuff, he just avoids unnecessary hits.

  4. No, Tyler. You are paid ten+ million a year to catch the ball, not to “protect yourself”. If you continue to make business decisions like this, you will be retired.

  5. He signed up to play professional football and part of that means there will be times that physical contact is necessary. This isn’t the first time he’s done this. There is a video on the web of him going down on his own time after time. If I was a Hawks fan I’d have had enough of watching that by now. It’s ridiculous.

  6. There’s a difference between trying to minimize contact and avoiding it altogether. Lockett does the latter, sometimes to comical effect.
    Which is his choice, but I can’t see how this would go well in their locker room when others are willing to put their body at greater risk for the goals of the team. It’s an interesting argument, but Lockett is a bad example to use because of how exaggerated his tactics are to avoid hits.
    There’s a line between team interests and personal ones that every player needs to walk to be effective players, that entails a balance between being reckless and selfish about their health.
    Tyler Lockett just slides short before approaching that line…

  7. As someone who has watched him over the years, don’t apologize for anything Tyler, it’s been a privilege watching you play

  8. “Everybody wants you to put your body on the line. For what? Your entertainment? Your amusement, whatever?”

    Tyler is exactly correct. There are way too many people who believe that the players are gladiators. These “fans” salivate over broken bones and concussions. The only reason that they watch is for the body breaking hits. They care nothing about the beauty of athletic competition.

  9. He said he thought he had the first down. He was mistaken. Stuff happens. Lockett is a terrific player. He would start for every team in the league.

  10. What the article fails to mention is that he took a monster hit on a first down catch later in the game which also drew a 15 yard personal foul. It was on a 3rd and long too, and ended up being a 27 yard gain with the penalty.

  11. Football fans, some TV analysts and even coaches confuse tactics and strategy. The broad strategy for any team is to win but the larger strategic aim is to keep as may talented players healthy for as long as they can which means sometimes employing a tactic that addresses a short-term goal but is within the scope of the overall strategy. All players are different. A big tight end may be able to take hit after hit and stay on the field, but a wiry, quick wide receiver may not be able to, so their tactics for gaining yardage may be different. The wide receiver needs to stay on the field when called upon to gain large chunks of yardage/ If he is forced off the field because he took a big hit to gain one-more yard it may have hurt in the short term , but the player will be around to make the big play which is what he is paid to do. Critical thinking is absent in most fans who just want to watch demolition derby.

  12. So he wants to lecture the fans how violent the game is but he chooses (not forced) to play it in exchange for a lot of money. So basically you want to have it both ways. If you’re that scared of uh, “CTE” then you can always walk away chief. What is that? You won’t, oh ok.

  13. Look at all the running backs who look for contact their first few years and then spend the next few on IR before retiring averaging 3 YPC

  14. As I recall, Franco Harris was known to step out of bounds rather than drop his shoulder and try to gain an extra yard or two. His reasoning was exactly the same; why risk injury if it’s unnecessary. IF he needed the yards he’d do it, and few better. But he wouldn’t risk getting blown up for a stat line. Hated the Steelers but respected him for that. LOckett thought he had the first down and did what was reasonable. He was wrong about the yardage, but not wrong about saving himself.

  15. I knew what the majority of the comments would be before I finished reading the article. All the keyboard NFL wannabes spouting off about how real players should just be grateful for the ‘privilege’ of being in the NFL and making gobs of money playing a game. Oh, and the old ‘they know the risks going in’.
    What about cops, firefighters, and the military? They know the risks of their jobs, but they’re praised as selfless heroes. No one forces them to do what they do. Pro athletes often give up their bodies to entertain people and some make a ton of money. So what? That’s the sports-entertainment industry. Very few people here have the same reaction to actors, musicians, or writers for making a ton of cash for what they do. Some comedians get $10-$20 million for doing an hour of stand-up on Netflix or HBO. Everyone’s cool with that. The arena and stadium concerts for your favorite musician are sold out and people fall all over themselves to pay $250 for a lousy seat in the middle of the balcony. But somehow it’s a major crime when a player doesn’t want to get lit up in a game.

  16. There is nothing wrong with a player going down when faced with head on collisions with people that are as large or larger than them and are moving fast. It makes no sense to risk a career.

  17. Seahawks fans should recall one of the most iconic moments in their history came when beast quake happened with Lynch breaking tackles and not going down. And it’s nothing to do with size. Any great player realizes they have an opportunity to score on any play.

  18. Anyone that doesn’t believe Tyler will take a hit, just haven’t been paying attention. Not to long after this play where he slid (thinking he had the 1st) the Hawks were in a third and 12 situation. Geno Smith hit Tyler on a dig route on the left hashmark. Tyler caught the ball past the first down line and was immediately leveled by a hit to the chest and head. He held onto the ball for the first. The hit was so nasty three flags were immediately thrown. If that doesn’t prove his toughness and shut the doubters down, then nothing will.

  19. If you have the first down, and give up 2 YAC, thats minimal.
    If one time you stop short, you can cost your team a game.
    Its on you to make sure you know where the first down marker is, all the other WRs seem to know, why don’t you?

    If you are a 3rd round pick on a rookie deal then I can see avoiding the hit.
    If you signed a big contract then it’s on you to play up to it.

    So yes, its a big deal that you deliberately went down short of the first down marker. I can see avoiding a charging LB, but no, take the hit from the DB to gain the first down. Otherwise, when you begin to slow down, you are at risk of getting cut, because you become suspect.

  20. Mike football players are not more courageous than 99.99 percent of our population. They are paid millions to play a game for entertainment. Our First Responders and Military are paid pennies on the dollars and risk there life. Pat Tillman was courageous.

  21. I’m with Lockett. He was short of the line to gain, but mistakenly thought he was passed it. Going down to avoid the big hit is advisable, at that point. Being available, long term, is much more important. If this is a playoff game, then perhaps he tries to get an extra yard. But in this long season, he made the right call.

  22. Lockett plays the game smartly. Being available is important. Choose your battles, it’s a long season. Save your body for the playoffs!

  23. Business decision. And I do not blame him. Lockett is getting up there in age so self preservation is key.

  24. Imagine getting sent on a crossing route. Since Geno “glass jaw” Smith is your QB he will lead you into a 250lb roided up 24 year old Linebacker who runs a 4.3 40 and makes his hay with highlight reel, CTE causing, crown of the helmet hits (think vintage vontaze burfict)

    Yeah…Ill have alligator arms too

  25. I don’t many Seahawk fans worry about Lockett getting down early when he makes his catches. He has been the ultimate pro, the person you got to for big conversions or TDs for 7 years.

    There isn’t a toughness question either because he never shows on fear going for balls where there is a big hit coming.

  26. If he gets hurt in the 2nd quarter then he’s not around to help them later in the game and could even be out for the rest of the season. Does that sounds like a good deal for the team? Maybe different if it was the final drive in a must-win game but it wasn’t.

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