Richardson Playing “For That Almighty Dollar"

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - The Jets lost again yesterday, dropping them to 2-11, but while the team continues to suffer heartbreaking losses there are still a few bright spots on the team. With none shining brighter than the second-year defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson.

Richardson had three sacks yesterday and blew up numerous other plays, as he has done all year. He appears to get held on seemingly every play, most are not called but his impact and ability to disrupt an offense is clear for everyone to see.

His talent and ability is as obvious as his heart and hustle. Just watch the last play of yesterday’s game as Jarius Wright took a short pass for 87 yards to win the game, the Jets played zero coverage so once Wright broke through the first line of defense the game was over but Richardson wasn’t going to just accept that.

As Wright sped down the sideline Richardson could be seen giving his all trying to run the speedy receiver down, he had no chance of catching Wright but that wasn’t going to stop him from trying.

“That’s just me. It’s overtime. I don’t see the need to give up on a play,” Richardson said. “He could have did anything, he could have celebrated early anything like that. You never know.”

Rex Ryan agrees with Richardson, that’s just the type of player and teammate this kid is.

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Ryan said. “That’s how he plays.

“Here’s a guy that each week he puts it out there. He’s just a consistent player and he gives great effort. Obviously, he’s got some rare physical traits. He gets off the football. He’s a great athlete, change of direction, all those types of things. We’ve asked him to do a lot of things for us this year. We’ll drop him in coverage, we’ll do a lot of that stuff. He’s an unselfish player. I think he's had a tremendous year, albeit in a bad season record-wise. He’s still playing outstanding.”

Still every time a team is eliminated from the playoffs with games left to be played the same question gets asked over and over again. A reporter will ask, “how do you stay motivated now that the playoffs are officially out of reach?” With the simple answer being something along the lines of, ‘easy, we play for our teammates, our coaches and our pride. And just because we are out of the playoff race doesn’t mean we stop being evaluated.’

Playoffs, Super Bowl champs or 0-16 on an individual basis it doesn’t matter what the record is players have to find motivation and get up for every game because every game is on tape to be evaluated by coaches. Some of that evaluation will happen the day after the game and some will happen after the season as teams start making decisions on what players should return and what players they want to acquire from elsewhere.

There are players on this Jets roster who will not be here next year so naturally you might think, why do they care? They care because they’re going to need to find a new job and the best way to do that is putting out quality tape. For many players, like Richardson, they’re immediate job security is safe but every time they go out onto that field they are playing to, not only, keep their current contract but to get a raise on the next one.

Leave it to Sheldon Richardson to be so blunt as he explains his motivation for each and every game.

“This is a team oriented game but this is a business in the end and we still got something to play for,” Richardson said. “The almighty dollar, it’s what drives this league. It is what it is. I don’t want to sound selfish or anything but in the end you got to get yours.”

Of course there will be those that decide to turn that into a selfish comment and with zero context maybe you could reach that conclusion. But all the context that is needed is that those words were spoken by Sheldon Richardson.

“I know there’s a comment where he said it’s just about the money or something right now. That’s not this kid. This kid is anything but that,” Ryan said. “I think he probably thinks it sounds good, but he’s much more than that. He gives it for himself, his teammates, this is why he plays.

“At one point I actually thought he was going to make that tackle on the receiver. I shouldn’t have, maybe it was just me hoping. But he does, he gives that kind of effort all the time. Sometimes he’ll miss guys just because he over-pursues.”

The players see Richardson’s passion and pride too and as much as his coach and the fans appreciate everything he brings every week his teammates love what he does for them and this team just as much.

“Sheldon, he’s a great teammate first of all and he’s a beast on the field, from day one when he got here,” Geno Smith said. “I met Sheldon back when we were training for the draft and you can just sense something special about him (and) his passion for the game, but he’s got a veteran mentality about him. He walks around here, he’s not afraid to strut his stuff and we enjoy that about him because he backs it up on the field. He’s a great player and I enjoy playing with him.”

Richardson won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award last year and this year he is well on his way to being known among the absolute best defensive linemen in the league but the question of if he will make the Pro Bowl is very much up in the air, after all Muhammad Wilkerson has never made the Pro Bowl.

“I’ll leave that to everybody else. It’s an opinionated thing, a lot of people have to vote on that to happen,” Richardson said. “I’m just hoping that the votes go my way.”

His coach certainly thinks he should make the Pro Bowl and most Jets fans would be upset if he didn’t make it this year but Richardson himself said he doesn’t necessarily think he’s deserving of that honor quite yet.

“Not yet,” Richardson said. “A few more sacks and a couple more big plays (and) I should.”

He may not get that honor this year but it’s only a matter of time until he does and with that will come the big contract filled with all those almighty dollars. His coach knows it, his teammates know it, the fans know it and Richardson knows it and he won’t stop working for until he hangs up his cleats.

“Most definitely (want to make a Pro Bowl). Most definitely, if you feel like you’re a high-caliber player. Just got to play hard, play hard every down,” Richardson said. “That’s how I play, doesn’t matter the score doesn’t matter the outcome just play hard.”

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