“He was a pretty big fella,” former classmate and teammate Walter Bonner says.
“Gangly, long,” adds Thomas Jefferson, also a Hamilton Park High School teammate.
As a defensive back for the New York Giants, Lockhart easily defended against the passing game.
“He had those [arms] wrapping around a guy, knocking the ball away without interfering,” Bonner says. “It’s hard to get your hands in front of a guy who’s running without touching him.”
Lockhart, born April 6, 1943, was the first Hamilton Park graduate to go pro. He was drafted to the Giants in 1965 and played 11 seasons for the team, making two appearances in the Pro Bowl, in 1966 and 1968, when he led the NFL in defensive touchdowns with two interceptions. He died July 9, 1986, at age 43, after a battle with lymphoma. He left behind memories and a legacy that will be explored in an episode of the “Giants Chronicles,” a series of short videos created by the New York Giants franchise that profiles old players and events from the team’s history.
“Giants Chronicles” usually produces 16 half-hour shows per year, says Mike Collins, a producer, editor and videographer for the project. The players profiled are picked at random.
Collins calls Lockhart a fan favorite, saying he’s “very beloved” by Giants fans then and now.
“He was, historically, on Giants teams that weren’t that great, but he was a consistent standout,” Collins says.
Lockhart’s episode will be posted online at the beginning of the season. A specific airdate hasn’t been decided, but Collins is hoping to run it around the time of the Giants’ season opener against the Cowboys on Sept. 8 in Arlington.
Lockhart, who lived in Hamilton Park, attended James Madison High School in Dallas ISD for ninth and 10th grade before transferring to what was then Hamilton Park High School, now Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet. Lockhart transferred into Hamilton Park in 1959 after the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Dallas to integrate its public schools.
During his first school year at Hamilton Park, Lockhart and other transfer students, including Jefferson, were banned from playing on the football team, but not from other sports.
Lockhart joined the track and basketball teams. He was just an average basketball player, but he eventually won the state title in the high hurdles.
“Carl was not known to be the fastest in high school,” Bonner recalls.
“No, he was just competitive,” Jefferson says.
In the fall of 1960, Lockhart and Jefferson, along with a few other transfers, joined the football team and led it to its first winning season and first championship. The team’s record shows the 1960 football team crushed its opponents, winning every game by a margin of no less than 24 points during the regular season. The team’s best performances were a 60-0 win against Lincoln and a 94-14 win against Bonham.
Bonner, who had attended Hamilton Park and played on the football team since its start in his ninth grade year, said he remembers never winning a game his freshman and sophomore years.
“We had some guys that would run the football, and the quarterback was pretty good,” Bonner recalls. “But Lock made it a lot better because he could catch, and you didn’t have to depend on the running back all the time.”
Bonner says no matter how high the ball was thrown, Lockhart could go up, catch it and bring it back down.
After graduating from Hamilton Park in 1961, Lockhart attended the University of North Texas and played football. He is now an inductee to the North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame. By the time of college graduation in 1965, Lockhart had to decide whether he wanted to pursue his dream career in the NFL or work for General Motors.
He chose football and got lucky.
“He told me a lot of times, he said, ‘Man, there are some players’ — speaking of us on our championship team — ‘that could have very easily made professional ball if they had the chance,’” Jefferson recalls.
Lockhart told Jefferson he had to work hard to make it on the team. He went from playing wide receiver on offense and safety on defense in high school to playing defensive back for the Giants.
“I was not surprised he made it into the pros. I was surprised he made it on defense,” Bonner says.
During Lockhart’s professional career, Jefferson flew to New York every couple of years to catch up, and he sneaked into Cowboys games to see his friend play. Jefferson says he would always wait by the visitors’ bus after Cowboys home games to have a chance to catch up with Lockhart.
“He probably asked us questions about what’s going on at home more than us asking him what was going on in New York,” Jefferson recalls.
Lockhart stayed in the New York area until his death, but he would often call home, especially during class reunions, to catch up with his friends.
Jefferson, who was interviewed for the show, says the “Giants Chronicles” episode on Lockhart will remind the community of how he really was. “Man, that’s going to be awesome.”
“We’ve had eight or nine people,” Jefferson adds. “It’s been eight professional players (from Hamilton Park) since Carl. He didn’t know what he was doing, and we didn’t know what he was doing. We had no idea what history, what impact on history he would make in the NFL.”