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NFL 2016: Is This Trent Richardson’s Last Chance in a League of Opportunity?

I remember Trent Richardson as a player at the University of Alabama. I remember a man trying to do better for his little girl. He was well-spoken, determined and a sure-fire first round draft pick.

Richardson had a solid yet unspectacular rookie season with the Cleveland Browns, but since then, he has traveled the circuit of NFL teams, finding little to no success. Richardson is a first round bust in every sense of the word and now that he has signed a contract with the Baltimore Ravens, possibly his last hope at an NFL career, the much –maligned running back has dropped a few words of wisdom that may explain everything about him in a very short and uneventful career.

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It’s easy to be lazy in the NFL.

As Kevin Patra wrote on NFL.com, The Ravens took on another reclamation project, hoping Richardson will finally get in shape and help the team’s running attack in 2016. The odds are against him. But the revelation that Richardson finds the NFL a playground of laziness spells out how a player who had so much potential has been caught up in a world of money, time and responsibility. Richardson has all but robbed teams of riches while giving almost nothing in return.

Richardson said, in Patra’s piece, part of his struggles stemmed from migrating from the rigid schedule set under Nick Saban at Alabama to the laxer rules in the NFL.

“It’s very easy to get lazy in the NFL — not having everything scheduled and not having everything like at Alabama where it was so structured,” Richardson said. “We had study hall or we had to get a workout in in between classes and had five classes a day. It was just so structured. In the NFL, everything’s on your own. “The admission of laziness from Richardson makes sense when considering his career. The running back earned his best season as a rookie. Then his career fell apart as he gained weight.

The story first originated on AL.com, where Richardson compared his time in Tuscaloosa to the time he spent as a nomadic NFL player. The similarities are slight other than carrying a football and trying to win football games. It is a read of how the player has spiraled downward since being drafted into the NFL. The reset of his career is now on hold as he has another opportunity to make a team and make a difference.

As disclosed in the story by Matt Zenitz on AL.com, this is an opportunity Richardson wasn’t sure he would get after being cut by the Oakland Raiders last August, likely a final chance for the former Alabama star running back and top-five draft pick to prove he can be an asset to an NFL organization. There have been other players, other tailbacks who have excelled in this role of revitalization and rejuvenation. There have been other players who have been drafted much lower in the Draft or have been signed as street free agents and have had more success than the former All-American tailback from a program that churns out running backs like a candy dispenser spits out bubble gum.

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The Ravens were one of the biggest disappointments of the NFL last season, largely in part to injuries, especially at quarterback with Joe Flacco going down and being placed on injured reserve. The team is in transition and rebuilding both on offense and defense. The same can be said for Richardson. It stands to reason the two – team and player – could work together to get healthy, to get better.

This almost certainly will be Richardson’s last chance in the NFL. How he chooses to use it may be determined by the idea that he cannot reach success if he cannot motivate himself to be successful. The Ravens need him and his ability as much as Richardson needs a new and fresh start. Both, if driven by the same goal, could achieve great things this coming NFL season.



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