Wilson's Word: T-Rich running out of excuses

It's always someone else's fault with Trent Richardson, but the underachieving running back's NFL reality check is inevitable.

Hopefully the time to write about Trent Richardson will soon be at an end.

If anyone is tired of the subject and doesn’t want to read on, that’s understandable.

Because there’s been too much talk about the former Indianapolis Colts running back, who has yet to live up to being selected No. 3 overall in the 2012 NFL Draft and did very little but disappoint in two seasons since being acquired from the Cleveland Browns for a 2014 first-round draft choice.

An Oakland Raiders writer on Scout’s network asked for background after his team signed Richardson to a reported two-year, $3.9-million contract Tuesday. The deal is incentive-laden, which means if he plays well he could make as much as a reported $4 million per year.

The writer relayed Richardson’s assertion on a conference call that struggles with the Colts were because of a bad scheme.

Of course, I was happy to enlighten the writer about what we witnessed. And why not share it with everyone else, just to close the book on this guy?

Seriously, the Colts waiving Richardson was inevitable. In the final month or so of the regular season, I took the position that the less said about him, the better. He wasn’t helping the team and I remember an old college professor advising against taking easy shots and kicking guys when they’re down.

But Richardson is an exception because he’s a 24-year-old millionaire who talks too loud and has lost touch with reality. He got his money from playing with great college teammates for one of the nation’s elite programs at Alabama.

The Colts’ scheme seemed to work fine for running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and Dan Herron, who averaged 4.5 yards per carry, while Richardson was gaining just 3.3 ypc last season. And he managed just 2.9 ypc in 2013, when Donald Brown averaged 5.3.

In two seasons with the Colts, Richardson averaged 3.1 ypc. Those numbers speak for themselves. He didn’t get it done. And he can’t keep blaming it on everyone else.

The Raiders made a mistake in signing this guy — and they’ve made their share over the years, hence their losing history recently — because Richardson lacks on-field vision to see holes and doesn’t hit the line hard enough to make the most out of what’s there. He can’t create for himself or make something out of nothing. The great ones do. Even the good ones.

Unless the Raiders construct an offensive line like the Dallas Cowboys, T-Rich will be a T-bone eaten alive in no time.

It’s easy to look back now and say the Colts made the same mistake. But the move made sense at the time. General manager Ryan Grigson was trying to fill a position of need with a highly touted player. At the time, I remember thinking Richardson was worth taking a chance on. I would rather see Grigson be aggressive than not, regardless of what critics will say. It’s all about trying to make the Colts better and winning Super Bowls.

The Colts’ undeterred confidence eventually contributed to Richardson’s lack of self-awareness. They’re not blameless, but their position was understandable for a while. They invested a lot in him and were determined he would pan out, so they insisted he was the starting running back. What else can they say? He's not getting it done and we're upset about it? Teams stick together and bashing an individual player publicly for poor performance is rare.

The Colts stuck by him longer than any of us would have, and that obviously made Richardson think whatever his problems he was still doing his job, working hard, and the situation wasn’t as bad as we in the media made it out to be.

The great thing about the NFL is players eventually run out of excuses if they’re not getting it done. That’s why pro football is referred to as Not For Long. And Richardson has made enough excuses for one career.

The Browns evidently saw that Richardson wasn’t going to be the franchise player they had hoped for, the kind to build a team around. And it didn’t take them long to reach that conclusion, did it? An NFL team doesn’t trade a cornerstone player after one season plus two games unless convinced it’s better to get a draft pick than keep him. That the Browns turned around and used the pick on quarterback Johnny Manziel reminds one smart move doesn’t lead to another.

When Richardson struggled initially with the Colts, it was because he didn’t know the playbook. He was still learning. But if a player is an undeniable talent, he finds a way to succeed. His talent comes through. Everyone sees it. But there wasn’t much to see.

Entering last season, he knew the playbook, so 2014 would be different. But it wasn’t. Four-tenths of a yard more per carry wasn’t near enough. He still didn’t see the holes or show the explosiveness needed to break through. Different year, but as we would find out, more excuses.

The Colts finally accepted it wasn’t going to work. Richardson didn’t start the last five games. He was inactive for the last two playoff games, and he should have been. After the Colts’ 45-7 AFC Championship Game loss at New England, we learned Richardson had been suspended two games.

There’s enough he said-he said about his pending grievance to recoup $3.184 million. He failed to notify the team when he missed a Saturday walk-through due to family emergency. But it’s his fault if the story is true that his cell phone died when taking his pregnant wife to the hospital. There had to be another phone around. I’m guessing she had one, too. Hospitals have phones, too. It only takes a moment to call.

There’s also been talk about how he weight 230, three pounds more than what the Colts expected. He has told ESPN and The Indianapolis Star the Colts never communicated that expectation.

Regardless of the circumstances, these are more excuses to try to get people to believe the situation wasn’t his fault. Richardson’s blameless nature continues.

Fact is, he was no longer of use to the Colts. After he was inactive for the Denver Broncos playoff win, he vowed that would never happen again. Really? Reporters chat in the media room after interviews and I can tell you several of us were surprised he said it because there wasn’t much of an expectation his situation would change against the Patriots. Then he missed the Saturday walk-through due to his family emergency and that becomes more of the story for some instead of sticking to the reality of what was really going on.

The Colts were ready to cut their losses. And suspending him, rightly or wrongly, gets them off the hook for that money. Whether he wins his grievance or not, he’s been paid enough. So forgive me for not shedding a tear about money he thinks he’s owed. For what, exactly? Not getting the job done? Those of us in the real world don’t get that kind of severance if we’re let go from our jobs, right?

At some point, the excuses can’t explain everything. Hopefully for his sake he doesn’t go through the rest of his life blaming everyone else for what doesn’t happen instead of looking at himself.

Not that I care anymore. Nor should anyone else.

After the grievance is resolved, he will no longer be of any concern to us or his former team. And the Colts are better off without him.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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