Tony Richardson doesn’t even know if he’s going to be playing next year, but it has nothing to do with the current NFL lockout. Richardson, a free agent fullback who most recently played for the New York Jets, will be a free agent if and when the lockout ends, and he’ll need to make a decision then about whether he wants to return for a 17th season. Right now, he says he’s simply worried about leaving his legacy. Richardson, an executive committee member for the players’ side of the negotiations, says he’s doing everything he can to pave the way for the next generation of players, just like those who came before him. He doesn’t sound completely enthusiastic or optimistic of an impending deal, but does say he’s optimistic in the fact that the right people are discussing the right issues. In other words, the wait rolls on.
Tony Richardson joined KCSP in Kansas City with Bob Fescoe to discuss recent meetings, if there is reason to be more optimistic, how much longer he thinks he’ll play, what it’s like to play for Rex Ryan, if he believes there will be a full 16-game season and if he’s been asked to give politically correct answers.
Are the players doing the same thing that the owners are reportedly doing, meeting in different cities somewhat secretly?:
“It’s not anything like that. I think that we’re obviously having general meetings to keep everyone up to date. But we’re not doing any secret meetings. We’re just trying to do everything we can to get back on the football field.”
There has been a greater general feeling of optimism lately. Are you more optimistic now about the situation?:
“I would kind of echo what our executive director, DeMaurice [Smith], and Roger [Goodell] said. You can be optimistic because we have the right people in the room, talking about the right issues and really trying to get this thing hashed out. In that regard, I would definitely say I’m optimistic and I think, as long as we keep hammering this thing out, hopefully sooner than later we can get something done.”
How much longer do you think you’ll be playing?:
“I think I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s very bright. It’s just a matter of, my biggest goal is to see this process through as far as getting guys back on the field. I know a lot of these guys just got drafted, and even my situation of being an undrafted free agent. These guys right now who didn’t get drafted are sitting there in no-man’s land and haven’t been able to talk to teams, not quite sure what they’re future is like. I can only imagine if that was me 17 years ago.”
What’s it like playing for Rex Ryan?:
“You know what? You have to love Rex Ryan. I think that sometimes people kind of have the wrong impression of Rex. The one thing I can say about him is he absolutely loves his football team, loves his players and would do anything to help guys be successful. People say he talks too much, but in the last couple years, having a young quarterback, I think Rex has done a phenomenal job of really taking the media attention away from Mark [Sanchez] and putting it on himself.”
Do you think there will be a full 16-game season?:
“That is a very good question. I think the fact that we have the right people in the room and headed in the right direction, that’s the number one goal. We’re doing everything we possibly can to get this thing ironed out and make sure it’s a fair deal for both sides. The fans have been patient, and I know they’re frustrated but we’re doing everything we can to get this thing worked out.”
Are they asking everybody to take the political approach to these answers?:
“It’s the truth; it’s not a political approach, it really is the truth. I would never pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. It’s a tough process because my stake in this is trying to pull off next year’s games because whenever you start to walk away, you want to make sure you leave a legacy. I think leaving a legacy is making sure that the things that I’ve been able to enjoy thanks to the people that came before me. I want to make sure I can leave that same legacy for the guys that come behind me.”