One wrong move and he would have been dead.
Those were the stakes for a pair of Arlington firefighters who saved a Seattle Seahawk player who suffered a life-threatening neck injury nearly two years ago.
During a November 2015 game at AT&T Stadium against the Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver Ricardo Lockette took a career-ending hit.
Arlington Fire Deputy Chief Gerald Randall and Engineer Paramedic John Robertson treated the player that day, knowing it wasn't a regular injury.
There are occasions when firefighters get to meet the people whose lives they saved and that happened for one Arlington firefighter. In this case, the person was a former NFL star in Spokane who called the firefighters his angels.
Robertson clearly remembers the moment the wide receiver went down with what could have been a fatal injury. He was one of the paramedics who rushed onto the field to help.
"When we saw him go down, we could tell at that point that something wasn't right the way he postured,” Robertson recalled. “I told him he needed to stay awake with me and keep his eyes open. And I said, ‘You got a lot of people up there cheering for you. Let them know you're okay.’ And that's when he raised his hand."
On Wednesday at a fire chief's Conference in Spokane, Lockette remembered that moment too.
"So I'm laying on the field and the top vertebrae that connects your spinal cord to your head was disconnected,” he said. “The reason that I'm standing here, the reason that I have an opportunity to hug my mom now and the reason that I have an opportunity to go to my daughter's graduation from elementary school is because of you guys. It's more like I'm talking to my angels. It's more like I'm talking to the people that saved my life."
Lockette had no idea that in the back row of that room was Robertson. And for the first time since that day, Robertson and Randall got to hug the athlete he thought may never walk again.
“There wasn't a dry eye in the room. When you got a bunch of firemen, we can act as tough as we do but there was a lot of emotion,” Robertson admitted. “It made you feel good that he didn't want to just reach out and shake your hand. He wanted to hug your neck, and it made you feel it was rewarding for me."
"A privilege. A blessing,” Lockette said. “Something that I don't take lightly and that I'm forever indebted for.”
"What he's done for the fire departments up in Seattle and what he said he's willing to do for any fire department across the United States because the guys saved his life just really makes me feel good that we did our job and did it right,” Robertson said.
Robertson says he got to talk at length with Lockette after the conference and give him details the athlete didn't remember. For instance, if Lockette would have been moved even a millimeter in the wrong way, he would have died.