Bobby Wagner Recalls Similar Scary Moment in Wake of Damar Hamlin Incident

Bobby Wagner

Getty Bobby Wagner returns an interception on December 25, 2022.

As the entire football world witnessed Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills collapse on the field in Cincinnati on January 2, Los Angeles Rams veteran linebacker Bobby Wagner was among the stunned onlookers — and reflected back to a moment he saw with a similar scare.

That flashback from Wagner was on November 1, 2015 while with the Seattle Seahawks.

“Obviously, praying for him and wanting him to be healthy and be safe and be good,” Wagner said of Hamlin while speaking with the L.A. media on Wednesday, January 4. “Like the rest of the world, kind of just waiting and seeing all the news that could come out.”

Then the Rams captain recalled witnessing something similarly scary: “I was unfortunately part of something like this with Ricardo Lockette.”

What Happened to Bobby Wagner’s Ex-Teammate Ricardo Lockette?

Facing the Dallas Cowboys in 2015, Lockette was running down the field on punt coverage. Cowboys safety Jeff Heath, though, came in and squared up on Lockette, burying his shoulder into Lockette’s helmet.

The 6-foot-2, 211-pound wideout and specialist, who later acknowledged he “almost died” on the field, laid motionless on the ground before play was halted. Heath told reporters he “felt terrible” after the hit, which required surgery to repair ligament damage to Lockette’s neck.

Wagner’s former teammate played his final NFL game that day. The difference with Hamlin’s hit from Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins was contact wasn’t directed toward the head, but rather the chest. Hamlin stood up momentarily before collapsing onto the Paycor Stadium field with 5:58 remaining in the first quarter. Team physicians and independent medical workers immediately rushed over to Hamlin and performed nearly 10 minutes of CPR before transporting him to the hospital late Monday night. The Bills later confirmed Hamlin suffered from cardiac arrest in the game.

As Wagner, like the rest of the world who watched the scene unfold on Monday, watched Hamlin receive immediate help, he reflected on how responsive the Seahawks’ medical staff was that day in Arlington, Texas.

“Wasn’t as extreme [the Lockette hit], but if the Seahawks didn’t do everything that they did, one wrong move, one wrong thing (and) Ricardo wouldn’t be even here today,” Wagner remembered.

Bobby Wagner Encourages Others to Express Their Emotions & Shows It’s OK to Feel Vulnerable

Wagner, a Rams team captain, then dove into the importance of seeing his teammates, and others, express their feelings as a way to show that there’s nothing wrong in feeling vulnerable, and that help is there.

“You have traumatic experiences, you have to find a way to deal with them,” Wagner said. “The best way to deal with them is expressing those feelings. The thing that we’re taught to do in this sport because it’s such a quote, unquote ‘manly sport’ is to hide your feelings, hide your emotions, and any expression of these feelings and emotions makes you less of a man. I think that’s a myth. Talking about your feelings, talking about things that affect you mentally, physically are more manly than anything because it takes a lot of courage to talk about those things.”

Wagner continued with “Reiterating that you’re not by yourself. You’re not the only person who saw this. The whole world saw this. You don’t have to be the only person that deals with this or deals with those thoughts or have those thoughts.”

The Bills, meanwhile, provided some positive news on the health of Hamlin before 10:30 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, January 5, relaying from doctors that he has shown “remarkable improvement” in the last 24 hours.

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