Darnell Dockett was back at the Cardinals’ Tempe facility for the first time in more than a year Monday, sitting on a stage, announcing his retirement.
Leaning against a wall in the back of the room was his former teammate Adrian Wilson – who was unnoticed before he took the microphone during the question-and-answer portion of the press conference to address his good friend.
“There are heroes, there are villains, and then there’s Dockett,” Wilson said.
It was an apropos description of the former three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, who officially ended his 11-year career flanked by team president Michael Bidwill and coach Bruce Arians when signing a ceremonial final contract.
“Even though I am not on the team and I’m retired, I can promise you one thing – I care more about Arizona winning
“I will forever be a Cardinal.”
Responded Bidwill, “This is always home.”
Dockett’s career featured 40½ sacks and a Super Bowl appearance, missing only two of 160 games in 10 seasons and starting 156 of those. His last game came in 2013 – Arians’ first season – because Dockett tore his ACL in the training camp of 2014.
Dockett said he has no regrets from his career except for his lack of a Super Bowl win, which he punctuated multiple times by noting and then staring at Arians, who was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers’ team that beat the Cardinals.
There were thanks for the late Denny Green for bringing Dockett into the league, for Ken Whisenhunt (even though the two butted heads late in Whisenhunt’s tenure) and Arians “even though he was the reason I don’t have my Super Bowl ring.”
He’s still hoping the Cardinals can change that.
“I explained to Mike (Bidwill) today, this year when they win the Super Bowl, I better get a replica ring,” Dockett
Arians noted the passion Dockett played with, a passion that is often missing with some players. That passion was lost when Dockett spent the 2014 season on injured reserve.
The Cardinals asked Dockett to take a pay cut prior to the 2015 season. Dockett declined, and he was released. He subsequently signed with the 49ers, but was cut in the preseason.
“I don’t sit back and regret anything that I’ve done, regret the decisions I made,” Dockett said. “I’m never going to talk about the other team that I went to, because my heart was never there. If you really knew me, my heart was never there, and everybody knew that. This is where I belong.”
He was part of the 2004 draft class that became the backbone of the 2008 Super Bowl team. Dockett was a third-round pick that season, taken behind first-round pick
Rolle and Smith were both among those former teammates in attendance Monday, as well as Wilson, Josh Scobey and
Dockett wasn’t just a presence on the field, of course. The outspoken lineman also created headlines over the years, not only with his brash comments but also with social media claims about a pet alligator or pet tiger.
But has Dockett emphasized, whatever he managed to stir up, he was never arrested or in trouble off the field.
“I said what I wanted to say, I did what I wanted to do, I voiced my opinion,” Dockett said. “I was never going to be tamed to the NFL ways, the way they want you to do things. The way they want you to dress, the way they want you to talk, the way they want you to act. I always walked the thin line in everything I’ve done.
“I’m glad because I’m not a duplicate of someone else.”