'T-Rich' Keeps Opening Holes

For every Batman, there is a Robin. For each Ponch, there is a John. For every successful NFL running back, there is a very good fullback opening up the holes. Kansas City has one of the best in Tony Richardson. 'T-Rich', as he is affectionately called by his teammates, has helped plow the way for several KC running backs over the years, including the past two record breaking seasons that Priest Holmes has enjoyed.

Though Tony Richardson broke his thumb in training camp (he could be back at full speed next week), the Chiefs know they have the best fullback in the NFL. No one blocks more effectively or plows the road better for a running back than T-Rich.

It's hard to believe but Tony Richardson is entering his 9th season with the Kansas City Chiefs. He learned the game from watching and playing with Kimble Anders. Anders taught Richardson the ropes, but now Tony has no equal in the NFL at his position. He can run, catch and block better than any fullback in recent memory. He can also play the true running back position and gained nearly 700 yards in 2000 while averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

However, Richardson has become slightly injury prone the last several years. He missed the end of last season with a separated shoulder but worked hard in the off-season to stay in shape. He stayed positive and upbeat when many athletes at his age would consider letting up.

But the quality that separates Richardson beyond what he does on the field is his deep believe in himself and God. Richardson understands his role with the Chiefs. He separates the brutality of the sport with a strong demeanor that makes him a leader on the field while still maintaining his respect for his faith, something he talks about openly in most of his interviews.

In today's sports world, especially in the NFL, Richardson is a breath of fresh air.

Richardson is obviously a huge key to the Chiefs offense. He opens huge holes for Priest Holmes, sacrificing his body by taking on blitzing lineman and linebackers so his running mate can do his thing. Priest's ‘thing' is gaining yards between the tackles or catching balls out in the flat.

T-Rich would love to be doing the same thing. He'd love nothing more than to be the focal point of the Chiefs offense and touch the ball 30 times a game. But when you have Priest Holmes on the roster, you have to be unselfish. No one is more unselfish than Richardson.

But the Chiefs do have some concerns about his age and health. Two years ago they drafted Penn State Fullback Omar Easy. Though Easy played in a few games last season he was very ineffective. The Chiefs had to turn to Easy last year but he was not prepared on game days.

The Chiefs are to blame for that because they took Richardson for granted. They won't make that same mistake this year. In fact, they added a little insurance to the team by signing free agent Joe Hall who has been ‘flashing' at times during training camp.

Hall some of you will remember played for Kansas State. The Wildcats Head Coach Bill Snyder wanted him to play on defensive but Hall wanted to be a full back. Snyder let him be a full back but he played very little at Kansas State.

Despite the lack of playing time, Hall has amazing grace and soft hands for a man who weighs more than 300-pounds. He also showed a newfound maturity by finishing his schoolwork in Manhattan and earning his degree. Snyder went to bat for him after that and contacted some NFL teams on his behalf.

He's not the "Fridge" but he's been to the buffet line more than once a few times. Even with that, the Chiefs are very excited about getting him involved in the offense especially in short yardage situations should he make the team. He can block and he can punish people. If he learns to use his legs more and take advantage of his upper body strength, then the sky is the limit for Hall.

But what's even more impressive about Hall is that he catches every ball that's thrown to him in practice. He stood out in the off season workouts and so far in camp is really pushing Easy for the back-up job. This might be a situation where the Chiefs carry three full backs to go along with three running backs.

Hall has taken some lumps personally but seems to be back on track. He has a desire to prove everyone wrong and the Chiefs might just be the benefactor of that desire if he's able to make this team.

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