Tony Richardson has played fullback for 16 seasons in the NFL, the last three with the New York Jets, paving the way for running backs to gain yardage. Even though Richardson does not know if he will return for a 17th season he has been active in the negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, hoping to pave the way for an on-time 2011-2012 season.
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.”
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.”