It is an initial speed bump for first-year head coach Todd Bowles as he must now handle an explosive situation involving New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson and his suddenly cloudy future in the NFL. But Bowles said all the right things on Friday as he prioritized the man and not the jersey.
Richardson, already facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, now has a court date in late August stemming from an arrest on July 16th. The incident involved Richardson speeding at 143 miles per hour, running a red light, having a firearm in his car and smelling like marijuana. As such, Richardson might be missing more than just four games for this latest incident, which was unrelated to his suspension.
Bowles spoke on Friday about the incident, a hint of unease resonating in his voice. He likened Richardson to a parent’s relationship with a child and the lack of trust that an incident like this can create.
“Disappointing, when it happens two times in that kind of time span you’re more worried about Sheldon the man as opposed to Sheldon the player. That’s the biggest thing. If you have children, you say things, they’re going to disappoint you, you got to come back,” Bowles said
“Right now I’m worried about getting him help, I’m not worried about the football player. We can win without him, it’s probably more fun with him but we’re prepared to win without him. The biggest thing is working on him as a person, when things like that happen, it’s not when he’s getting back on the field it’s getting his life together. That’s the biggest thing.”
Consistently, Bowles struck a solid chord on Friday, preaching that his young defensive end needed to grow and develop. He sounded willing to give Richardson a second (or perhaps in this case a third chance) although there was a sense of bewilderment about the timing of the situation.
Bowles said that he did not find out about this arrest issue until an hour after the Jets head coach addressed the media. Richardson never informed the team of the arrest two weeks ago.
“All you can do is listen to him, you don’t get a sense because getting a sense means you actually believe him. And there is hope there and you have to wait for days and even weeks even months pass by for him to make a change for the better and accepting the help and seek change,” Bowles said. “At this stage in the game after two disappointments in a row, you have to go through actions and you got try to help him and go from there and try to help him become a better guy.”
As far as if Richardson will play for the Jets this year, Bowles admits he is uncertain, saying he will need a few weeks to let the legal process play out.