The Unprofessional Football League

NFL Bum Squad: Trent Richardson: “The Michael Bay of Running Backs”

trent richardson

Welcome to the NFL Bum Squad: a series of articles which celebrate some the NFL’s most maddening players. Each article will spotlight a new player. This week, we will look at Indianapolis Colts running back, Trent Richardson.

To fully capture the essence of Trent Richardson, imagine it’s Saturday night. You and your girlfriend are sitting on the couch watching Snooki & Jwoww, or some other awful show that women watch. You let her pick the channel because you’re trying to keep the peace after the monumental fight you had the day before. So far, so good. Then, out of nowhere, she makes one of her patented underhanded comments.

“I just don’t get why we never go on dates anymore. Every time you say you’re going to take me out, something always comes up.”

And it begins…

You can feel the anger building, but you’re exhausted. You’re not about to start another screaming match. You need an exit strategy. Then it hits you.

A movie!

“I was thinking about that a lot and I have a surprise for you,” you say slyly, as if you had been planning this for weeks. “Tonight, I got us tickets to see Transformers: Age of Extinction!”

Your girlfriend throws her arms around you in glee. Nice save.

You’re safe. For now.

You arrive at the theater and pick up the tickets that you secretly reserved fifteen minutes ago on your phone in the bathroom. Your girlfriend insists she doesn’t want any popcorn, so naturally, you get a large because she’s going to end up eating half of whatever you get. The two of you find seats that aren’t too close (or too far away), the lights dim, and in that moment– you become powerless.

At this point, you are at the mercy of the screen. Now, your Saturday night, the harmony of your relationship, your happiness– are all in the hands of Michael Bay and his explosions. You try to justify yourself. Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer; the cast is solid, right? The movie had a huge budget, over $200 million, so it has to be worth it. It has to.

But it’s not worth it. It never was.

By the time you realize your mistake, it’s too late. Two hours into the movie and you’re still waiting for something to happen. You’re still searching for some sort of discernible plot, a story line, some evidence of character development, hell, you’d settle for a sex scene at this point. How could you be this stupid? Why didn’t you listen to Rotten Tomatoes? You’ve been had! You’re a puppet. You were drawn in by the promise of action, adventure and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch; and you’re in too deep to back out now. The world around you fades away. There’s nothing but you and that 52-foot-wide screen. You can’t escape, you can’t change the channel. You can only watch. You can only wait. You can only hope, that after two hours of canned dialogue and over-the-top explosions– that something, anything will happen.

When it comes to bums, Trent Richardson is the NFL’s best-kept secret. Coming out of college at Alabama, he looked like a sure thing. Before the Cleveland Browns drafted him with the third overall pick in the 2012 Draft, it was hard to find a scout who didn’t like him. NFL.com gave him a pre-draft grade of 93.5. Scouts dubbed him a “three-down back,” a “perfect fit in a West Coast scheme.” Some called him “the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson.”

Now, fast forward to the present.

In 31 games, Richardson has eclipsed 100 yards rushing only three times. In 2013, he averaged 2.9 yards per carry, third-worst in the league; and had the same amount of fumbles as touchdowns. Despite his lack of production in his rookie season, most of the NFL still saw him as one of the league’s up-and-coming backs. The Browns knew better. In an act of brilliant subterfuge, the Browns cashed in on the Indianapolis Colts’ out-of-town-stupid and traded the running back for a Colt’s first-round pick, a pick the Browns later used to move up to select Johnny Manziel.

Like you in that theater, the Colts realized their mistake after it was too late. The more they fed Richardson the ball, the less he produced. As the season wore on, the man once referred to as the “second-coming of Adrian Peterson” was losing carries to Donald Brown. The Colt’s lack of trust in Richardson was no more evident than in the 2013 playoffs. In two games, Richardson carried the ball four times. He gained one yard. Coming into the 2014 season, Richardson is said to be on a short leash. The man once thought of as a surefire “three-down back,” might not even get on the field for one.

Trent Richardson is Transformers: Age of Extinction. The hype is there. We’ve all bought our tickets. But after two years, we’re still waiting to see what we came for. It’s been two years of explosions, two years of lip service, two years of excuses. At this point, we all realize that we should’ve seen 22 Jump Street instead. But there’s no going back now. We’re all prisoners in that theater together. There’s really nothing left to do but sit there and wait for something to happen.

image via

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Ryan Graham is a blogger and college student out of Dubuque, IA. He writes for and manages his own blog, coachsrant.com; and has also written for sportsblogmovement and sportschump.net. Check out his blog and follow him on Twitter: @Coachs_Rant.
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