Darnell Dockett was on the run from the cops 2 days before NFC title game
Remember when the Arizona Cardinals knocked off Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game to punch their ticket to Super Bowl XLIII?
Of course you do.
What you don’t know, however, is the backstory leading up to the game surrounding two key defensive players, and how things might have gone a bit differently given their predicament.
With it easily being the biggest game of the year up to that point, former Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was out there “living his best life,” he told Master Tesfatsion on “Untold Stories.”
While quarterback Kurt Warner was “probably reading his bible, going over plays,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was “probably getting his feet done,” and Edgerrin James was “probably somewhere betting somebody,” Dockett was off-roading with teammate Antonio Smith doing whatever they wanted to do.
Untold Stories Episode 8 with Darnell Dockett
Darnell Dockett was on the run from the police.
He explains how an ATV chase nearly led to his arrest…two days before the Cardinals’ 2009 NFC title game vs. the Eagles.
— Master (@MasterTes) December 11, 2019
“Me and Antonio Smith were like brothers, like the movie ‘Stepbrothers,’ and we did pretty much everything together,” Dockett said. “Tone was like ‘You know, let’s go get four-wheelers,’ so I was like ‘Bet, come on.’ We just go to the shop, they had two limited-edition four-wheelers.”
The reason for the impulse buy? The two were bored and wanted something to do in Arizona.
They got their money’s worth fairly quickly.
“So we get on the four-wheelers, we ride through the neighborhood, we ride through the parks — kids out at the parks — all through the streets,” Dockett said. “We were getting ready to play in the NFC Championship Game. We win, we go to the Super Bowl. We living our best life.”
Then the red-and-blue flashing lights popped up in the rearview.
Playing it smart with a lot riding on the two and in a full-on chase with authorities, they decided to break like they were leaving a huddle, with Dockett going one way and Smith the other.
Winding through streets and taking back roads to avoid the police, Dockett managed to make it back to his house.
Smith not so much.
“I go in the house, I’m panicked,” Dockett said. “I call Antonio trying just to make sure that he didn’t get caught or something. Fifteen minutes later, my phone rings.
“Antonio called me and says ‘Hey Doc! … Hey man, the police got us. You need to come back. I was like ‘Hold on, wait, no, the police got you.'”
To make matters worse, Smith went as far as telling the cops Dockett’s name and affiliation.
Rule No. 1 Smith, don’t snitch.
Dockett, thinking on his feet, played it off like he was never with Smith, hanging up the phone and avoiding the interaction altogether.
Until the phone rings again, with Smith telling Dockett he’s thinking of giving the police the DT’s home address.
“About 10 minutes later, the police call, ‘Hey we need you to come back around here,'” Dockett said of the phone call. “At this point, I’m like I gotta admit to it, because if I don’t, It’s like we lying to them. That might make the situation worse.”
Most likely facing the music, Dockett pulled up back to the park — in his car this time — with seven officers waiting for him.
With a court date already mentioned by Smith on the phone, the likely outcome was not going to be pleasant for either of the defenders.
Then things took an unexpected turn.
“[The officer] said ‘What was y’all thinking? Y’all got the biggest game of the year to Arizona. You know we need y’all to go to the Super Bowl,'” Dockett said of the exchange. “‘What if one of y’all fell off these four-wheelers and we didn’t have you guys?'”
Continuing the conversation, the officer decided to let the two go.
But on one condition.
“‘Just beat the Eagles’ [expletive] for me, OK?'”
The heart that was sitting down at Dockett’s ankles suddenly jumped back into his chest, he said, with the thoughts of missing the biggest game of the season slowly leaving his mind.
“I was like, ‘Man I got you, I got you,'” Dockett said.
The Cardinals went on to beat the Eagles 32-25 at home, with Dockett and Smith combining for three tackles and a forced fumble.
And while the story has a happy ending for all those involved, there was one last twist.
“That officer comes to my house [the Tuesday following the game] and knocks at the door,” Dockett said. “He said, ‘Thank you for keeping your word, congratulations.’
“I said, ‘Man I ain’t riding my four-wheeler. My four-wheeler put up.’ We started laughing about it and still to this day, me and him still have a relationship with being cool.”
Talk about a wild ride two days before a title game.