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Ricardo Lockette retires from the NFL after serious neck injury

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Lockette was flanked by his family at the press conference.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette never fully recovered from the vicious hit he took on special teams last November, and now his career is over.

Lockette announced his retirement Thursday at a press conference with his family by his side. He suffered a serious neck injury Nov. 1 when Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath knocked him to the ground while covering a punt. Lockette immediately went down to the ground without moving and was motionless on the field for several minutes before being lifted onto a stretcher. ESPN's Ed Werder says he's no longer able to rotate his head.

"I'm here to announce my retirement. But before I go into that, I want to thank God, because without God, I wouldn't be here today," Lockette said.

The 29-year-old went on to thank the training staff, paramedics and his family for helping him survive the scary injury. Lockette hasn't yet decided exactly what his post-NFL future will entail, but he knows that he wants to help people who need it and mentioned the homeless, domestic violence victims and kids as specific areas of interest to him.

When asked by a reproter if it was a tough decision to retire, Lockette was frank in his response.

"No, because I love my family and I'd rather walk."

Lockette underwent a surgical procedure the following day in order to stabilize ligament damage in his neck. He revealed during his retirement speech that he had titanium plates inserted into his neck, too. Though he returned to a warm welcome at CenturyLink Field two weeks after the operation, he never stepped foot on the field again last season.

Bitter, sweet #Rockette for the 12th Man who created the Monster

A photo posted by Ricardo Lockette (@ricardolockette) on

When Lockette visited a Seattle-area firehouse in March, he commended the first responders for their work the night of the gruesome incident.

"I didn't really realize how serious it was until it was over," Lockette said. "Because the doctor told me, pretty much, that my skull was ... well, all the ligaments that connect my vertebrae and the cartilage were gone. So, the cartilage is out and the ligaments torn. He said that if I would have stood up then the weight of my head -- left, right, front, back -- I would have died. If one of my teammates came over and pulled my arm, just barely, I might have died. Or if the returner had the time to break a couple of tackles and fell on me, I would have died on that field. What saved my life is the trainers and the work that you guys do."

Lockette, 29, will retire with 22 career receptions in 34 games. He won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks during their 2013 championship campaign.