Tony Richardson (Doug Pensinger/Getty)
After 13 years in the NFL at a high-impact position like fullback, retirement would seem to be an option for the Vikings’ Tony Richardson. But there are a few reasons Richardson wants to return to the game, he says. The unrestricted free-agent-to-be talks about his future.
Usually it’s the long-time veteran who helps the rookie stay in the league and/or improve, and that was the case throughout the 2007 season with veteran Tony Richardson and Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year Adrian Peterson. However, even if Peterson didn’t know it, he was having an impact on Richardson as well.
Richardson just completed his 13th year as a running back and fullback in the NFL, and it might seem like retirement would be a consideration after taking all that pounding. For Richardson, that hasn’t been a serious contemplation, and Peterson is one of the reasons why.
“Not at all. I’m still having fun and enjoying the process and enjoying the young guys. Whenever you have a guy like 28 (Peterson) in your backfield, it kind of gives you life. So those types of things you kind of take care of at the end of the season and I think everyone knows where my desires are and where I’d like to be.”
That’s right back in Minnesota after adding Peterson to the list of running backs he has mentored. The list also includes Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson in Kansas City.
While Peterson’s instant success and infectious energy is one of the reasons Richardson, an unrestricted free agent, would like to return to the Vikings, he isn’t the only reason. The entire backfield – sans Richardson – is a collection of young players that helps keep the veteran fullback feeling spry.
Chester Taylor is the next senior person in the group with six years of NFL experience, followed by Jeff Dugan and Mewelde Moore with four years each. Then comes Naufahu Tahi with two years in the league and finally Peterson.
“We have a good group of guys. I love coming to work, with Chester, Mewelde, obviously Adrian Peterson, Dugan and Fahu – we have a good group,” Richardson said. “Those guys, I’m almost double their age, but it’s fun. They make it fun. That’s the bottom line. I’ve always said that as long as I could play at a high level and still have fun and enjoy the process and win, then I would definitely want to play. Having a guy like Adrian, if he can’t bring a spark – just the little things. Early in the season, running sprints with him, those things definitely pay dividends for you in the long run.”
Peterson’s success this year, especially in the first half of the season, no doubt played a part with both him and Richardson being selected as starters on the NFC’s Pro Bowl squad.
During the last week of practices, Richardson said the team hadn’t approached him yet about getting a contract done, but he’s hardly worried about the situation.
“A lot of times with veteran players, you kind of wait until the season is over. I’m not a young guy that they see is going to be playing five and 10 years from now. I have no desire to play five and 10 years from now. Those types of things have a way of taking care of themselves,” he said.
For Richardson, the reason he isn’t considering retirement is that he still cares deeply about winning and losing and he still enjoys the game.
“Without a doubt. (The loss to the Redskins) was hard to take. I’ve always said if I get to the point that it doesn’t matter, then that’s when it’s time to walk away,” he said. “That’s when it took a lot, that game, that hurt just knowing what was out there and we didn’t get it accomplished. You don’t like that feeling, but it’s just a part of the game. But if I ever got to a game like that and it didn’t bother me the way it did, then it’s time to walk away, and I haven’t had any desire to walk away at all.”