Skip to main content

For more than a decade, Darnell Dockett earned millions as a dominant defensive lineman for the Arizona Cardinals. Despite his lucrative paydays, Dockett didn’t spend exorbitant amounts on jewelry or expensive cable packages. Instead, he used his NFL fortune to purchase a few exotic animals. But despite offering $30,000, there was one pet that Dockett couldn’t manage to add to his own animal kingdom.

Darnell Dockett’s Cardinals career

Darnell Dockett entered the 2004 NFL draft after becoming one of the better players in Florida State’s star-studded program. The 2003 ACC Defensive Player of the Year ended up getting selected in the third round by the Cardinals. Right away, the 64th overall pick proved to be an impact player for a defense desperate for playmakers.

As a rookie, the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder started 15 games and recorded 42 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and one interception. Despite taking a pounding in the trenches, Dockett impressively played all 16 games in each of his first six NFL seasons. In 2007, he earned his first of three Pro Bowl selections after racking up a career-high nine sacks.

Unfortunately, his individual success often got overlooked. Arizona did not post a winning record until Dockett’s fifth year in the league. However, that 2008 season was a magical one. Led by Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald on offense and Dockett and Karlos Dansby on defense, the Cardinals advanced all the way to the Super Bowl before falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dockett remained a mainstay before missing the entire 2014 season with an injury. That offseason, he signed with the San Francisco 49ers. But after the team cut him before the season started, Dockett signed a one-day contract to retire with the Cardinals. He finished his NFL career with 40.5 sacks and 90 tackles for loss.

Defensive lineman earned $54.5 million in 11-year NFL career

Though he never earned an All-Pro nod, Dockett still got paid well for his consistent play. Of course, it didn’t start out that way. As a third-round pick, the former Seminoles star signed a three-year, $1.49 million rookie deal that contained $570,000 guaranteed. That’s certainly great money for the average person, but far from elite in today’s NFL salary standards.

After earning about $500,000 year on his rookie deal, the durable and dependable Dockett got a serious pay raise. In 2006, the Cardinals signed their defensive stalwart to a five-year, $22 million extension that averaged about $4.4 million per season.

Dockett continued to provide a valuable interior presence over the course of that deal. And in 2010, he became one of the rare NFL players to earn a third contract from his original team. Dockett cashed in again with a four-year, $35.3 million contract that included $4.45 million guaranteed. His average-per-year doubled from his previous deal. After finishing out that contract, the 49ers gave him a two-year, $7.5 million deal. He earned $2.5 million despite getting cut before ever suiting up in a regular-season game.

Dockett attempted to buy a $30,000 monkey

While some athletes choose to invest back in the sports business, Darnell Dockett spent his NFL fortune differently. The unique defensive lineman utilized his massive earnings to purchase exotic animals, including a pet tiger named Little Buddy. Of course, when you’re 290 pounds, you can probably handle yourself well against those exotic creatures.

According to ProFootball Talk, the one pet Dockett failed to make a permanent part of his animal kingdom was a $30,000 monkey.

“I didn’t buy the pet monkey,” he said. “The dude would not sell it. I offered him a price that the only other person who would offer him that much is probably Michael Jackson, rest in peace, but he wouldn’t even entertain my offer when it came to the monkey.”

The hulking defensive lineman couldn’t contain his disappointment. After all, he viewed the monkey as a future fan favorite.

“Could you picture that on game days? I’m coming to the game, I have my monkey with me, he has my jersey on,” Dockett said. “Think about it. After the game, the fans see me with the monkey, ticket sales go up, Dockett jersey sales go up. Why? Because they all want to see me with the monkey.”

Luckily for that monkey, he never took up residence amongst Darnell Dockett’s exotic pet collection. If Little Buddy had got his paws on his new roommate, he would have turned that monkey into a $30,000 snack.