Most here in the state of Arizona will remember the brash, outspoken and sometimes over-the-top Darnell Dockett. The one who rarely didn’t speak his mind or push the envelope on social media.
But the outspoken Dockett, or “Nine-Oh” as he was frequently referred to, wasn’t always the center of attention.
“We didn’t give him much of a chance to talk too much,” Dockett’s college coach Bobby Bowden told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Monday morning. “I don’t remember him being very outspoken.”
I’m bout to get back voicing my opinions on Twitter now I’m gonna retire so I can really say what I want! #nofilter
— DARNELL DOCKETT (@ddockett) July 22, 2016
What Bowden did vividly remember was Dockett’s tough upbringing as the former Cardinal defensive lineman saw his mother lying dead of a gunshot outside of their then Atlanta home when he was just 13. Just a few months later his father, Darnell, Sr. died on pancreatic cancer leaving the rising young athlete an orphan.
It’s a story that still hits home to the iconic College Football Hall-of-Famer today, more than a decade after Dockett was a four-year starter after redshirting in 2000 for Bowden and the ‘Noles.
“He stood up before our team at a meeting one time, we asked him to,” Bowden recalls to Cesmat. “We asked him to tell us about his life. He stood up and told the story…[where] he saw his mother.”
Bowden recalled Dockett being a high-effort player who could change the dynamics of the game at the line of scrimmage.
There was only one instance where the player and coach butted heads about whether “Dock” was better suited to play inside at defensive tackle or at on the edge.
“I remember he and I had a little controversy,” Bowden said. “I invited him to leave. I said, ‘if you don’t like it, just take off.’ I was bluffing him. Thank goodness he stayed with us.”
Monday Dockett made his NFL retirement official after 10 years with the Arizona Cardinals and one with the 49ers in 2014. He signed a one-day contract to open his press conference at the Cards’ Tempe headquarters.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) July 25, 2016
His NFL career in many ways mirrored his time in Tallahassee: gritty, tireless and reliable. Dockett missed just three regular season games with the Cardinals before tearing his ACL nearly two years ago.
“He was a very tough, dedicated kid with us,” Bowden said.
After more than a decade in the NFL trenches, he can enjoy retirement.
A retirement well-deserved.