Jets, Bowles surprised, disappointed Richardson hid arrest
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Todd Bowles and the New York Jets had no idea about Sheldon Richardson's latest troubles until media reports started popping up early Thursday night. That's around the same time Richardson's parents found out, too.
The defensive lineman hid his arrest on July 14 in Missouri from the team and his family, hoping it might take a while - if ever - to come out. The coach and the rest of the team were disappointed by the defensive lineman's arrest - and stunned that Richardson didn't disclose it to the team.
''You lose a lot of trust,'' Bowles said after practice Friday.
Richardson was charged Thursday with resisting arrest in Missouri less than two weeks after he was suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league's drug abuse policy. According to the police report, Richardson was caught racing another car while going as fast as 143 mph before speeding away from police, blowing through a traffic light in the process, with three passengers, including a 12-year-old boy.
''He hasn't been smart,'' Bowles said. ''He hasn't been clear in the head, and clearly he needs some help.''
The Jets and the NFL are looking into the situation, although any punishment would likely not happen until the legal process plays out.
''This is a wake-up call,'' an apologetic Richardson said.
Richardson practiced with the backups Friday, as he did Thursday when the Jets opened training camp. He said he apologized to his teammates, but hadn't yet spoken to owner Woody Johnson.
''They know what's going on a little bit as far as me being apologetic and having to answer questions as far as what I did on that night,'' Richardson said. ''I apologize to my family, to the Jets organization. They're still standing behind me. I'm thankful and grateful for that.''
Richardson was issued traffic summonses and ordered to appear in St. Charles County Circuit Court on Aug. 31 - it was originally scheduled for Oct. 27 - for arraignment on the charge of resisting arrest, a class A misdemeanor. A conviction on the charge is punishable by up to one year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Richardson had a loaded gun under the mat of his seat, according to the report, and officers smelled burnt marijuana, although he wasn't charged with anything related to those details.
''It's hard to say a guy's a good guy when two things like this happen, but he's a good guy,'' Bowles said. ''But good guys don't always do the right things.''
The news came out about an hour after Richardson spoke to reporters Thursday for the first time since his drug suspension, declaring that the Jets wouldn't ''have to worry about my name being in the news again.''
''What I told the media, this is why I said what I said in the media yesterday. Just because you didn't know about it, all this was going together,'' Richardson said. ''I know they've got some stipulations out there about me, but I've been clean, still clean. Whether you believe it or not, that's on you. Once again, I apologize to everybody.''
The 24-year-old Richardson was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and quickly established himself as one of the league's top, young defensive linemen. He also had become a fan favorite, but was feeling some heat from the stands Friday when one man yelled, ''What are you, high?'' after Richardson jumped offside on one play.
His future has become clouded, with no one knowing when Richardson might be able to play again.
''It's disappointing,'' Bowles said. ''If it happens two times in that kind of time span, you're more worried about Sheldon the man, as opposed to Sheldon the player. ... Right now, I'm just worried about getting him the help that he needs. I'm not even worried about the football player.''
As a result of his four-game suspension for marijuana use, Richardson is allowed to practice with the team only until the regular season begins. He would be eligible to return for the Jets' game against Washington on Oct. 18. But Bowles - who showed a mix of anger, frustration and compassion - acknowledged he had ''no idea'' if he expects Richardson to play this season.
''We can win without him,'' Bowles said. ''It would probably be more fun with him, but one person can't make our team.''
Richardson alluded Thursday to being depressed during the offseason, and revealed Friday, without going into details, that a close family member died. He said he spoke to his parents Thursday night about the arrest, and acknowledged his decision-making needs to improve. He said he had ''just one bad night'' when he was arrested, thinking it would be ''fun'' to race in his 2014 Bentley Silver Spur since they ''never rode in a car like that before.''
''I've got to do better,'' Richardson said. ''And, I will do better.''
His Jets teammates acknowledged that they were surprised by the situation, but insisted Richardson has their full support.
''We're here for Sheldon; he's our brother,'' guard Willie Colon said. ''We just want him to be a better person off the field. He knows that, and we're all rooting for him.''
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