July 7, 2020

Richardson: ‘That’s what I miss – just being together’

BlueBombers.com

It’s what a lot of athletes are doing these days while they wait for a return to play and contemplate their future – often at the same time – during this global pandemic that has pushed pause on so many sports. And it was while Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive tackle Steven Richardson was updating his resumé that he was thrilled to add the following under the title ‘Accomplishments’: Grey Cup Champion.

“Putting ‘champion’ on your resumé sure helps because it applies to anything,” said Richardson in a recent conversation with bluebombers.com. “But these are historic times with what we’re all going through right now and it definitely forces you to think about life after football, which is not a bad thing sometimes.”

A business and marketing major during his days at the University of Minnesota – where he was teammates with both Drew Wolitarsky and, for a spell, Chris Streveler – Richardson is now working on becoming a computer coder, with the hopes of finding something as a web developer.

The dilemma a lot of Canadian Football League players are currently facing is weighing chasing jobs knowing there is still a possibility of an abridged 2020 season. That could force them to either take a leave of absence from a new employment opportunity or quit altogether with a return to play.

“You have to be proactive in working out and staying in shape in case (a season) does happen. But if it doesn’t, you have to be trying to find a job. The issue there is if you do get something and there ends up being a season, then you have to tell them you have to leave for a few months.

“Personally, I don’t think that’s necessarily  bad because you do get on a company’s radar. Plus, at some point during an interview you’d have to be up front and tell them there is a potential you could be going to Canada to play the rest of the season. It’s about opening doors for yourself.”

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Richardson tackles Ticats QB Dane Evans in the 107th Grey Cup (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)

It could be said Richardson has been in this place before – both physically and mentally – in waiting on football. After all, he waited eight months after being released by the Los Angeles Chargers for another door to open in football with the Blue Bombers last spring.

“I didn’t connect like that, but now that you mention it, it makes sense,” said Richardson. “It’s probably part of why I’ve been so calm through this: I’ve been here. I’ve played the waiting game before.

“Hopefully we have a season this year. Hopefully the vaccine comes and we can get back to normal, but who knows when that’s going to happen? So you just have to do what’s best for you. I really feel for the guys who have families… you can’t be on hold for the whole time.”

Richardson misses the game dearly these days. But in what has become a common refrain from players, he readily admits he misses his teammates more than anything.

“As much as the fans love those Virtual Huddles we’ve been doing, we really enjoy them because we can all talk together,” he said. “We sit on those things for probably another 20 minutes after they end just catching up with each other.”

Richardson drinks from the Grey Cup after his team defeated Hamilton in November (The Canadian Press)

“That’s what I miss, what everybody misses – just being together.”

The optimist in Richardson is hopeful he gets the green light to return to Canada soon. Again, he knows all about patience and how good things come to those who wait – he’ll soon be getting a Grey Cup ring and has gladly tapped in the words ‘Grey Cup Champion’ on his resumé.

“I look back at last year and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my CFL career,” he said. “I don’t know how things are going to go this year, but I’m definitely expecting to make it back to the championship and go two-for-two.

“The whole year was a great season and an eye opener for me. We started off really strong, but there was a point where we felt like we lost something. We didn’t know what it was, but we definitely lost something.  There was always that bond, though. We went out one time as a team, just us, and after that we had the great run. That stood out for me… it wasn’t about our play being off, it was about us being connected together again.

“I miss going through that. I miss being around the guys and being part of something like that. It’s tough right now for so many people, I get that. I’ll just say the world needs some football right now.”