Sheldon Richardson apologizes again; Jets express concern for DE

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Saturday, August 1, 2015

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Embattled defensive end Sheldon Richardson apologized for the second time in a 24-hour span, this time for a July 14 arrest that left coach Todd Bowles and the New York Jets organization deeply concerned about Richardson's well-being.

"He hasn't been smart, and he hasn't been clear in the head," Bowles said Friday after practice. "Clearly, he needs some help."

Bowles declined to speculate on when -- or if -- Richardson will play again this season, saying the Jets will let the NFL handle potential discipline. He already is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

The Jets were blindsided by the arrest, which didn't become public until late Thursday. Richardson confirmed that he didn't tell the team. He said "nobody knew," not even his parents.

Richardson, a Pro Bowler last season, was driving his 2014 Bentley Silver Spur at speeds clocked as high as 143 mph with three family members in his car, including a 12-year-old, according to the St. Charles County (Missouri) prosecutor's office.

He was street racing another vehicle and led police on a high-speed chase before he was apprehended, authorities said. He was charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.

"After my suspension, that was just one bad night," Richardson said. "I thought it would be fun to show my family members something. They never rode in a car like that before."

Police also detected a strong odor of marijuana in the car, but no drugs charges were filed. This happened 12 days after his suspension for marijuana.

"I let (the organization) down, simple as that," said Richardson, acknowledging he must improve his decision making. "I'm not afraid to say that. ... This is a wake-up call."

Richardson declined to discuss details of the incident.

The league is reviewing the case and could deem it a violation of its personal-conduct policy, which probably would mean an additional suspension. That Richardson didn't inform the Jets is, by rule, a violation of the policy. Previous transgressions could factor into the league's decision on potential discipline.

"All relevant information will be taken into account," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

Bowles didn't try to mask his disappointment, yet he also expressed compassion for Richardson, remarking several times that football is secondary to his personal health.

"I'm not even worried about him as a football player," said Bowles, who addressed it privately with Richardson and with the entire team. "Right now, he's going down a spiraling road. He needs to understand he has to turn his life around.

"It's not a football issue, it's more of a personal issue."

Bowles said he didn't ask Richardson why he withheld the arrest from the organization. He suspects Richardson was "in denial," adding, "You lose a lot of trust" in the player.

Richardson agreed.

"It just wasn't smart," he said. "I made a bad decision, not informing them. I didn't want to get into trouble. ... I just denied it."

Richardson practiced Friday, continuing to work with the backups. He heard it from the crowd when he jumped offsides, prompting one fan to yell, "Are you high?"

His embarrassment was compounded Thursday by a coincidental series of events. One hour after addressing his suspension for the first time -- he told reporters he'd never get in trouble again -- the arrest story surfaced in news reports out of his hometown of St. Louis.

Richardson, who has violated the substance-abuse policy at least three times, insisted he's not worried about flunking another drug test even though police believe marijuana was in the car.

"I've been clean," he said. "Still clean. If you believe it or not, that's on you."

Tim Lohmar, the prosecuting attorney for St. Charles County, said no marijuana charges were filed because police didn't find any evidence in the vehicle. He suspects it was tossed out the window. Even though police sought a felony charge for child endangerment, the prosecutor's office decided not to charge Richardson because "we didn't think there was enough evidence to support that beyond a reasonable doubt," Lohmar said. "You might think, 'He was driving 143 mph with a child in the back seat; isn't that enough?'" Lohmar said. "There has to be some sort of intent on the part of the actor, causing immediate danger to the child. We looked at it closely, but we felt there wasn't enough."

Richardson's teammates rallied around him, saying they will support him even though they could lose one of their best players for more than four games.

"We're all shocked by it," guard Willie Colon said.

Bowles sounded like he's prepared to move on without Richardson.

"We can win without him," he said. "It would be more fun with him, but we're prepared to win without him. The biggest thing is working on getting him better as a person. It's not when he gets back on the field. It's 'can he get his life together?'"

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