What the ex-UW star has no plans to do, according to Scott Locker, is play baseball, which was the immediate thought of some considering that the Angels still hold his rights after drafting him in the 10th round in 2009 and singing him to a six-year contract that included a $300,000 signing bonus.
Jake Locker retired from the NFL on Tuesday at age 26 with no real plan other than to spend time with his family in Ferndale and finish remodeling his house.
“That’s his focus right now … to be the best dad he can be,’’ said his father, Scott, in a phone interview Wednesday. “And he’s a dang good one, so I’m proud of him.’’
Jake Locker, a former standout quarterback at Ferndale High and the University of Washington, and his wife, former UW softball player Lauren Greer, have two children — daughter Colbie, 2, and son Cooper, 8 months.
“A lot of people wonder and were surprised by his decision,’’ Scott said of Jake, who had spent the past four seasons with the Tennessee Titans and was due to become a free agent Tuesday. “But in dealing with Jake, it always comes back to he goes where his heart leads him. And for whatever reason, this seemed like the time to dedicate his time to his kids and his family and his life like that. And at this time it didn’t include being a football player.’’
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Locker released a statement in which he said was retiring because “I no longer have the burning desire necessary to play the game for a living” and that “to continue to do so would be unfair to the next organization with whom I would eventually sign.’’
Scott said he has not asked Jake if he would ever want to play football again and added “that is probably not something that he would even know how to answer now. He’s just basing things off the way he’s felt for the last little while and how he feels now and how he’s wanting to move forward for the time being.’’
What he has no plans to do is play baseball, which was the immediate thought of some considering that the Angels still hold his rights after drafting him in the 10th round in 2009 and signing him to a six-year contract that included a $300,000 signing bonus.
“I don’t think that’s something he will entertain, because that would mean even more time away from his family,’’ Scott Locker said.
For now, what he wants to do is finish remodeling his house. After completing his career at UW and being drafted with the eighth pick of the 2011 NFL draft by the Titans, he bought his grandparents’ house — the same one in which Scott grew up.
With the renovation ongoing, Jake and his family are living for now with Scott and Locker’s mother, Anita, in the house in which Jake grew up.
“Got our house full again, and it’s kind of nice,’’ Scott said.
Jake Locker played his last game for the Titans on Dec. 14 against the New York Jets, suffering a dislocation of his left (non-throwing ) shoulder that required surgery.
It was one of many injuries that interrupted his NFL career, as he missed 14 of 32 possible starts after being named as Tennessee’s starter in 2012, his second season. Scott Locker said Jake is ahead of schedule on his rehab and said injuries were a factor in the decision mostly in giving him time to think about where his career was headed. Locker had been demoted to second string at midseason in favor of rookie Zach Mettenberger, playing again only after Mettenberger was injured. Scott said Jake began considering retirement after returning home following the season, which was the last on the four-year rookie contract he signed in 2011 that paid him a guaranteed $12.58 million.
“I think after the way last year ended for him and being hurt, it was something that he started wondering if the football thing was the right fit for him any more, if that was the end-all for him,’’ Scott Locker said. “And I think he just thought about it a lot and prayed about it a lot and came to the conclusion that there might be other things out there for him and other things he can do to spend his time that he can do to help people and impact some lives.’’
Locker last year also became the co-owner of a gym in Ferndale called Locker Room Fitness and will devote some time to that.
Scott Locker said the decision was in its own way similar to the one Jake made in 2009 to stay at Washington for a final season when many observers thought the smart financial move was to leave for the NFL — there already was speculation about a rookie salary cap that eventually went into effect in 2011, severely decreasing contracts for drafted players.
“For most of us, it would be a thing where you would probably continue to go down the path he was on,’’ Scott said. “But that’s the difference between Jake and most people. He’s got a way about him that’s different. There will be a lot of people that will not agree with the decision that he’s made. But you’ve got to be pretty proud of a guy that can stand up and say he’s not feeling it anymore and be able to walk away from it. It would have been easier to just come back and sign on with a team and play rather than make the tough call to say, ‘I’m going to walk away and find myself something that makes me happier than this is, right now, anyway.’”
Scott Locker said Jake already has talked about attending football games at UW and “enjoying that part of life, too.”
“For now it’s just kind of take a deep breath, re-establish the home fire there and see what might come next,” Scott Locker said.