Sean Richardson cleared to play after neck surgery

Published Oct. 24, 2013 6:47 p.m. EDT

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Sean Richardson would often be awake all night, wondering and worrying. The anxiety of not knowing if his NFL career was over at the age of 22 didn't allow the Green Bay Packers' safety the luxury of rest. 
For nearly one full calendar year, Richardson waited. He underwent single-fusion neck surgery in January 2013 on vertebrae C-5 and C-6 to repair the herniated disk he suffered in Week 12 of last season. Since then, Richardson could only hope that it worked well enough to get him back on the football field at some point.
After the news that Richardson received Sunday, he can finally get back to enjoying a good night's sleep.
"It was a long journey, but I'm officially cleared," Richardson told
During his recovery, Richardson had tried to keep his concerns to himself. He didn't want the family, friends and teammates who were supporting him to see any of the doubt that he was feeling.
When Richardson found out Sunday that he was medically cleared, he didn't even know what to do first.
"It wasn't a celebration," Richardson said. "It was a relief. I just thanked God and told my family and told everyone that supported me that the decision had been made and I was officially able to play again. I took it all in. It was a long journey. I made it."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy wouldn't get specific with what's next for Richardson, simply stating that "we got great news on him this week." But with Richardson still on the physically unable to perform list, Green Bay has until Week 11 to get him on the practice field. If that happens, Richardson would then have three weeks to practice before the Packers would have to choose whether to add him to the active roster or place him on injured reserve.
"I would love to play this year, especially because all the doctors cleared me and said that they think it's great, it's a go," Richardson said. "I'm not looking forward to being on IR. I've been training, haven't played since Week 11 of last year, haven't even played 7-on-7. A few more weeks and it'll be a whole year (since the injury).
"To feel so good right now, mentally and physically, my neck feels great; I can't see myself being on IR."
Richardson, who went undrafted in 2012, appeared in five games as a rookie. However, the majority of his playing time was on special teams, only getting on the field for 15 defensive snaps. It was on the kickoff coverage unit that Richardson injured his neck.
Now, as Richardson stares into his locker with no jersey and no helmet in sight, he waits again. He waits until the day that he gets into the locker room and finds both of those items waiting for him.
"When I see that helmet and them shoulder pads with the jersey on top of it, then that's when I'll be bouncing off the wall," Richardson said.

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