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Former NFL player tells high schoolers that men should 'take the lead' — and emotions heat up fast

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Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette celebrates after a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers Sept. 4, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

After a recently retired Seattle Seahawks player told high schoolers that men should "take the lead" and stand up for women, some female students got angry and walked out of an assembly at the Emerald City's Garfield High School, the Seattle Times reported.

Ricardo Lockette's motivational speech on Tuesday, which the paper said was part of the school’s promotion of leadership among student athletes, began getting pushback after he said men should speak up for women in their lives if they're harassed and disrespected.

“Why can’t women stand up for themselves?” Julia Olson, a junior volleyball player, asked Lockette to the cheers of those around her.

Lockette was more than prepared to handle Olson's challenge, though, saying he respected Olson as a leader and that "women, you can definitely stand up for yourself." Lockette then offered more of his perspective.

“Even though you can handle your own, but as men — men, stand up. Men, take the challenge. Men, take the lead. Men, take the head,” Lockette told the students, according to audio of the speech from KOMO-TV. “Women can also do the same, but you would never respect any man if he never takes the lead, if he never shows you any authority, if he never shows you that ... he’s a king ... you would never respect him.”

Olson got back in Lockette's grill: "I don't need a man in my life to tell me what I can and can't do." The crowd hooted and hollered more in response, but Lockette was unfazed by the growing tension, saying he liked Olson's competitiveness.

"Women can be their own leaders," she said, "and they don't need men to, like, be there for them. They can stand up for themselves and, like, be their own independent person. Like, men often, like, take away from what women can do, and, like, that's the point of, like, what we're learning and, like, what we should be able to do."

“It’s totally great to be confident, but you can’t do everything by yourself," Lockette replied. "If this room, this school, was totally all women … what would you do? You can’t ... run your world with just women, it’s impossible ... just like if it was all men, we wouldn’t be able to do it. We need each other.”

But what really got the crowd going was Lockette telling Olson, “If your daddy wasn’t there, then you wouldn’t be in that chair. ... There would be no such thing as Julia."

About 20 student athletes — the majority of the volleyball team — tried walking out, Olson told the Seattle Times in a phone interview. But while administrators stopped some from departing the assembly, Olson told the paper she and another person walked out.

“I didn’t feel comfortable staying," Olson told the Times. "I didn’t want to listen to really anything else that was going to be said.”

Lockette seemed undisturbed by the walkout: "People have walked out on me my entire life. People have closed doors on me my entire life ... I love adversity. When it gets hard, I want to prove to you that I can do it. I'm not gonna walk off this stage because they left. I'm not gonna throw the mic down and say, 'Wow. That was so disrespectful.' That's not what we do."

He then told the crowd that "in a couple days I'll be buying my mom her first house," which resulted in big cheers. "Women and men ... you guys are in charge of your destiny. No matter how old, what color, where you're from ... your opportunity is now."

Lockette retired from the NFL in May after suffering a life-threatening neck injury during a game last season in Dallas, the Times said. Lockette also was part of the climactic play of the 2015 Super Bowl, when a New England Patriots player intercepted a pass intended for him at the goal line with just 20 seconds left — a touchdown would have won the game for the Seahawks.

The remainder of Lockette's talk was controversy free, and he discussed his charitable foundation, feeding the homeless with the Seattle Gospel Union and stepping up for those victimized by extreme domestic violence.

Olson told the Times that while she was mostly praised for her pushback, others asked, "Do you know who he is? You’re just a girl in high school.” But she replied, “Personally, I’m sure he’s very intelligent … I’m not trying to offend anyone by speaking out.”

Here's audio of Lockette's talk:

(H/T: The College Fix)

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