Holmgren: Locklear to play in NFC title game

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Sean Locklear's Wednesday was infinitely better than his Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.

Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren told him he will start in Sunday's NFC Championship Game against Carolina at Qwest Field.

On Tuesday, Locklear was in a Seattle courtroom, pleading not guilty to an assault charge. Prosecutors allege Locklear grabbed his live-in girlfriend around the neck early Sunday morning outside a Seattle nightspot, leaving red marks on her neck and chest. He spent two days in the King County Jail.

"As he explained to me exactly what happened, I believe I understand what happened. At that point I have made the decision that he will play in the football game," Holmgren said.

The coach said the facts will come out at Locklear's next court hearing, set for Feb. 13.

"He was very sorry, apologized to me," Holmgren said. "This morning, he apologized to his teammates."

Locklear, 24, then said he was sorry to all of Seattle.

"I want to start off today by apologizing to the community and everybody," the first-year starter said, his words clipped and his voice sometimes shaky. "I'm not proud of the things I've done."

A tired-looking Locklear acknowledged Holmgren repeatedly talks to the team about ensuring personal affairs do not become public news. Those warnings became even more frequent in October, after starting safety Ken Hamlin was lost for the season with a fractured skull from a street fight outside a Seattle bar.

"He talks about it all the time," Locklear said. "That's his job. He's supposed to talk about it.

"But we, as grown men, should know what we are supposed to do, the rights and wrongs," he said.

Holmgren added the incident was far out of character for Locklear, a third-round draft choice in 2004 out of North Carolina State.

"He really does realize that the players represent the community," Holmgren said. "He is one of the guys that I think would like to be a role model in this community.

"He realizes that this has been a negative thing in what should be a feel good week for us," he said.

Holmgren also noted he has four daughters and four granddaughters and said his wife, Kathy, has "worked as an advocate down at the courthouse the last couple years volunteering on Fridays in domestic violence issues.

"So as a household, we are very sensitive and as an individual I am very sensitive to this sort of thing," Holmgren said. "Having said that, I wanted to know the details and I wanted to have an idea of what happened. It is a very, very serious issue, as it should be."

The coach said it was important to "let the process happen and then we will know at the time which direction we have to go."