Coming from the same 2004 class chosen by then head coach Dennis Green, Darnell Dockett is easily the most recognized Arizona Cardinal. His locks flow just as long as Larry Fitzgerald and leaves it all on the field just like Karlos Dansby. However, unlike his counterparts, he had a past, a dark one that most Cardinal fans know.
His mother Cheryl was murdered when he was in the seventh grade, and he found her body and made the call to the police himself. His father died of pancreatic cancer four months later, which is hard to even write; let alone experience as a minor.
Questions about him grew before he even became a Cardinal, as his background brought up concerns about whether he could handle the pressure that comes with being an NFL player. At one point, there were scouts who even went as far to say “He thinks he is above the law and no matter what he does he feels he can’t get into trouble.”
The Cardinals still listened to Green and choose him in the third round. His ability to overcome past obstacles, along with the help of a dedicated uncle in Kevin Dockett, has enabled him to grow into a great interior defensive line and greatest personality the team has ever seen.
Speaking to that personality, as great as it can be sometimes it can be quite the opposite the next time depending on who you speak to. Former Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes experienced this firsthand last year, when there were rumors of him getting spat in the face by Dockett for giving up on a play.
His coming out now to speak upon his use in Ray Horton’s scheme last year is also something not surprising for the lineman either. His love for the game and passion is rare but less rare as a quote here or there for his disdain and pure hatred for the 49ers. He has been quoted “I hate to lose, that’s why I take the game so seriously.”
That made him one of the best Cardinals. His passion through Green’s Monday Night Football rant in 2006 until three years later in his only Super Bowl appearance with head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Now with his 3rd coach he is being given that freedom he needs, not off the field but on it. Coach Arians mentioned him as one of the first Cardinals being contacted when he became head coach and that’s rare, as Dockett’s opinion has not been seen in the same light as Fitzgerald’s his play has, and Arians did not have to say he did reach out to him either.
He has shown he has rare talent splitting gaps with ease entering the backfield to have visits with the opposing quarterback every play but has also had the Cardinals brass question there decisions probably whenever the read his twitter. From speaking about Arizona gun laws are great as they are or how Chad Ochocinco Johnson.
However, entering his 10th year he has nothing else to prove to anyone except himself and if winning is so important as he says then becoming an enigma on the field for offensive linemen instead of his followers will be key.