Richardson retires after release from Vikings

Offensive tackle Antonio “Tiny” Richardson is retiring after multiple knee surgeries brought on reality.

Antonio Richardson was hoping surgeries on each of his knees last fall would get him back on the football field.

Instead, after spending his rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings on injured reserve, the Vikings released Richardson last week after drafting three offensive lineman, prompting Richardson to retire from the game.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank God, University of Tennessee and the Minnesota Vikings organization for the opportunity to live out my dream as an elite football player,” Richardson wrote on Twitter. “Second I’d like to thank my close ones for supporting me through this time. My love and passion for this game is Infinite, but I understand that football careers don’t last long and unfortunately mine has ended due to injury. I can truly say I left it all on the field. I am forever thankful for my opportunities and I look forward to life after football.”

With talent considered worthy of first- or second-round consideration last year, Richardson went undrafted in 2014 because of concerns with his knees. After having issues with his knees in high school and college, and surgery following his sophomore season at Tennessee, the concerns were raised again at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine after medical tests.

The Vikings signed him as an undrafted free agent but placed him on season-ending injured reserve before the regular season started.

“If I didn’t have the series of injuries that I’ve had, I would have probably been a top-15 pick coming out of college,” Richardson said in December. “That’s the reality of it. People can say what they want to say, but if I had been healthy throughout my career I’m convinced I would have been in the top 20 picks and among the top four tackles in the draft. But, it is what it is. I’m a man of faith and people have different roads that they take to get to their destination. I got here, so I’ve got to continue to work to reach my ultimate goals.”

He had separate surgeries on each knee last year, hoping to keep his NFL dream alive. He had his first surgery Sept. 4 on the right knee. After getting enough rehab time to handle a second surgery, on Sept. 30 he had a procedure done on his left knee.

“They didn’t have to reconnect anything as far as ligaments were concerned,” he said in that December interview. “There was a decent amount of cartilage damage. They went in there and cleaned it out. We’ve been doing some things – injections and things of that nature – to try to help it. I’m doing everything that’s asked of me and rehab is going pretty well to this point.”

Eventually, however, reality set in and Richardson is now starting the next, non-football phase of his life.

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