13 year Pro Bowl veteran FB Tony Richardson hopes to help the young Jets get back to the playoffs in 2008. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
New team, new players, new coaches, new city; same old Tony Richardson. The 13-year Pro-Bowl veteran signed with the Jets with the expectations of stepping into an atmosphere that has the attitude of winning and the dedication to getting the job done. So far, he feels he has that.
“Everyone has been good,” Richardson said during the Jets full team minicamp last month. “The players have welcomed me and are working real hard to get ready for the grind of a 16 game season. I’ve been eager to get to know them since were going to be family for a decent amount of time.”
Well, he has a good family that he’s inherited due to his free agent signing on March 6th. He now joins a backfield that consists of a rejuvenated Thomas Jones and scary fast Leon Washington.
“Those guys are blazing fast and quick,” he said. “I can’t wait to put a hit on somebody to open a hole for them.”
Richardson, 36, has been to the playoffs, played in three Pro Bowls (’03, ‘04, ’07) and is looking to better his standing as a top NFL fullback. He’s been doing that outside of the practice facility
“I’ve been in the weight room a lot this year and I’ve lifted at home in trying to prepare my body for the grind,” he said. I want to contribute as much as possible to get this team on the winning track again.”
Richardson was named to Sports Illustrated All-Pro in 1999 and 2000, second-team All-Pro by The Associated Press in 2004 and earned recognition on USA Today’s All-Joe Team in 2000 and 2001. Richardson is looking to improve this season in terms of receiving, whereas last season, he had no touchdowns.
“That’s something I’d like to get more of [touchdowns],” Richardson said. “I know I’m a fullback and primarily block but if there’s an opportunity for me to get more involved, I’m going to do that.”
His tenure in the NFL, mostly with the Kansas City Chiefs, has not affected Richardson in a way that would make him slow down with age. If anything, he’s speeding up.
“I keep working and try to stay healthy,” Richardson said. “That’s the most important thing. I don’t like to break the workout routine that I have since it’s been so successful for me. I have to prepare my body for the long run.”
The Alabama native believes the change of scenery will not affect his ability to produce, even with the crazy New York media market and the never-stagnant New York City.
“I think every place is different because of the different coaches, players and schemes and things of that nature so it’s really kind of hard to compare New York to a place like Kansas City.”
On what it’s like living in New York City.
“It’s great,” he said. “It’s more hectic than other places that I’ve played but it’s really cool.
Richardson worked primarily with the first team today and even split out to receiver a few times; an all too familiar thing for the 36-year-old. He has 201 career catches, 58 of which came in 2000.
“I’ve caught passes out of the backfield in Minnesota and Kansas City,” he said. “I love to catch the ball.”
Richardson main goal is to stay injury-free and play every game. He wants to make other players better by being a prime example of work ethic.
“I hope the stuff that rubbed off on me over the years of watching other veterans rubs off on the young guys that are in here,” he said. “It’s all about making the team better because when the team wins when we all do well.”
The veteran fullback said he wants to be there everyday, go against the grain and get better with age instead of going on the decline.
“I want to play every game,” Richardson said. “I don’t want to fall victim to the ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ deal. I won’t because the coaches and players know what I can do. The players make me play better when they play better because it shows we’re all on the same page.”
Richardson’s not the only one that wants that to happen.
“As many years that Tony’s played, he’s probably run every kind of run and worked with all different types of backs, head coach Eric Mangini said. “He’s a guy that you can do multiple things with.”
On what Tony is.
“He’s not just a down hill guy,” he said. “He’s not just an interior guy. He can be a lot of different roles.”
Richardson feels that improvement starts on day one. Not day [insert number].
“It all starts when you’re running in shorts,” he said. “We need to get better and I think we’re doing that. I know we can’t do much in shorts but the little things make the team better.”
“We just have to continue to get better everyday from minicamp to training camp and on into the season,” he said. I think if everyone tries to focus their attitude on getting better as a team, then we will.”