Seattle Seahawk Sean Locklear has made his living the last seven years on the opposite side of the country, but he hasn’t forgotten about home.
The Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman made the six-and-a-half hour flight from the West Coast on Friday so he could visit family in Lumberton and participate in the 6th annual Vonta Leach Football Camp held Saturday at South Robeson High School.
More than 200 players from ages 6 to 18 enjoyed free tutelage at the camp from National Football League players like Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson, Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Jay Ross, Kansas City Chiefs receiver Terrance Copper, Locklear and Leach, who is also a Robeson County native.
Leach grew up in Rowland and Locklear in Lumberton. But both realize the importance of giving back to the county in which they were raised.
“It means a lot just to show my face back here were I grew up,” Locklear said. “I know growing up, every chance I got to meet somebody on the professional level – knowing that’s where I wanted to get to – it was exciting to me. Jamain Stephens (Lumberton native and former NFL first-round pick) used to come back a lot to Lumberton, and just to see somebody from my hometown walking around who made it, that meant a lot.
“So I hope to try to inspire these kids a little bit and let them know guys from around here can make it at the professional level in any career.”
Locklear’s professional career has certainly been a distinguished one. Since being taken in the third round of the 200 NFL Draft out of N.C. State, the 6-foot-4, 310-pounder has appeared in 97 games in seven seasons with the Seahawks and made 78 starts. He started 15 of 16 games in 2010 for a team that won the NFL West Division and produced an upset of defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs before being eliminated by Chicago.
The highlight of Locklear’s NFL career came in 2006 when he helped the Seahawks advance to the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers came away with a 21-10 victory, but Locklear still relishes the experience.
“Even though we lost, just to get there was an accomplishment,” Locklear said. “A lot of people never get there. I had a guy on my team who had been in the league 14 years and he had never even been to the playoffs. Now, I’d just like to get back.”
If Locklear does return to the Super Bowl, however, it may be with a team other than the Seahawks. His contract ran out at the end of the 2010 season, making him a free agent. Due to the NFL lockout, players have not been allowed to negotiate contracts or work out at team facilities.
“Anywhere I go, whether that’s Seattle or somewhere else, I hope to go to a team that wants to win,” Locklear said. “I love Seattle. I’ve been there my whole career. It’s the only team I know. I want to be there. But that decision is not up to me now. It’s up to the guys in the front office, or another team.
“Where ever I go, I’m hoping to help them win.”
Locklear said he’s followed the negotiations between NFL owners and the players association carefully. He’s been encouraged by progress that has been made in recent days.
“I look at it every day to see if anything has changed or is happening,” he said. “The word on the street is things are getting closer (to an agreement). But is it inches away or miles away? We really don’t know. Hopefully, they get it resolved soon.”