The Jets knew that they were getting a five-technique defensive end when they brought Jay Richardson into the team’s offseason activities and minicamp, what they didn’t know was that they got an insurance broker as part of the deal.
Cut by the Seahawks after the 2010 season, Richardson had all but given up his dreams and ambitions of playing in the NFL and had moved back to Columbus, Ohio to focus on his insurance company. In 2007, Richardson, along with partners Roy Johnson and Sean Morrow, went from commodities trading to a focus on insurance “where we saw the potential to make real money.” They created JR and Associates to become insurance brokers.
“I wasn’t playing football and I figured that was it, I’m done. So after taking a few weeks to mentally understand that — and it wasn’t easy — I had my license in Ohio and set about with the business,” Richardson told Metro New York. “I wasn’t expecting the call I got from the Jets in April. It was exciting.”
The day-to-day operations of the business can be difficult to keep up with while being involved in minicamp, so Richardson has to rely on his business partners to keep him briefed and updated on the important issues of the day. As he sat outside his locker following Wednesday’s morning session of minicamp, Richardson was scrolling through his smart phone. He claims “eight missed calls” and at least 10 emails waiting for his reply. They range from minutiae to business development.
An entrepreneur has to be good at multi-tasking, but rarely do they have to squeeze conference calls between weightlifting sessions and defensive meetings with coordinator Mike Pettine.
“I’m here at the facility from say 7:30 in the morning till maybe 5 in the night, so that is more than a nine-hour day. We get an hour long break so I can respond to some emails and things for a half-hour of that time; maybe that long,” Richardson said. “I get back to the hotel and I open up the laptop and can work for a couple more hours there and after that, put in an hour or two of studying the playbook.”
“That’s long days.”
Richardson, though, wouldn’t have it any other way. He is excited about the growth of his company, which brokers insurance ranging from health insurance to life insurance and accident insurance for businesses. It can be time-consuming, but on any given day he can be enrolling new clients into policies, meeting with individuals to plan for the best policies to fit their needs and meeting potential clients, many of whom are thrilled that they’re meeting an NFL player.
An insurance salesman is supposed to be relentless in trying to land a new client, and Richardson has shown that same desire on the football field too.
As dedicated as he is watching his business grow, he clearly has a passion for the game of football as well. He wasn’t expecting the call from the Jets this past April, but having played for Rob Ryan in Oakland (the brother of Jets head coach Rex Ryan), he is familiar with the type of defense the Jets will employ.
“I had always played a 4-3 and here I’m in a 3-4, but they want me to play the five-technique, which I’ve played my entire career,” Richardson said. “So I’m real comfortable with it and what they’re asking me to do. Plus, this is a great locker room and I love my teammates.”
Plus, they might need insurance.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for updates from minicamp.