Richardson lured away by Vikings


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Jan 22, 2006
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Richardson lured away by Vikings
Two-time Pro Bowler gets $2.5 million deal
The Kansas City Star

In the end, tearing himself away from the Chiefs and Kansas City was so difficult that Tony Richardson almost couldn’t make himself do it.

He spent a night agonizing over the decision presented just now by the Minnesota Vikings. Could he really leave behind the community where he’d finally made a home and the team he’d sweated for during the last 11 seasons?

On Tuesday, Richardson finally decided he could. The Vikings dangled the prospect of a bright finish to his career, something the Chiefs couldn’t necessarily promise.

That, along with a two-year, $2.5 million contract, led the two-time Pro Bowl fullback to choose a new life and career in Minnesota.

“This was very challenging for Tony,” said Richardson’s agent, Pat Dye Jr. “This was very, very, very difficult, an emotional decision for him.”

Richardson was optimistic last week about returning to the Chiefs, but that was before Minnesota’s top free-agent fullback target, William Henderson, re-signed with Green Bay.

The Vikings then set their sights on Richardson, whisking him to Minnesota on Sunday. By then, Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson said, he had an idea Richardson would be gone.

“I think Tony had his mind made up before he went to Minnesota, so we really didn’t even get into any negotiations,” Peterson said. “I’m disappointed about that, and I told him I was disappointed because, frankly, he did not call me back before he left for Minnesota.”

The Chiefs appreciated Richardson for his solid locker-room presence, his many civic and charitable ventures, and his blocking ability. Richardson was no small part of the rushing success of Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson.

But the Chiefs have moved away from using a traditional fullback in recent seasons. They were wary of giving big money to a player who, as Richardson did last season, played only about one-third of the snaps.

“I think maybe it was a situation where he just felt the next step in his career was to go to the Vikings,” Peterson said. “They do run a different offense than us. Very frankly, the fullback is much more involved than our fullback is. I don’t know if that played into his thinking, but I can’t overemphasize the fact that I’m very disappointed from a personal standpoint because Tony and I, I think, have had an outstanding personal relationship. The other side of it is that this is a business. We all know that. I wish him the very best.”

Dye said: “Minnesota did a great job. He had a great visit. The Vikings were very aggressive in their negotiations. They just made Tony feel very welcome and appreciated there.”

Richardson didn’t return phone messages.

The son of a military man who moved his family often, Richardson put down roots in Kansas City. Richardson joined the Chiefs in 1995 as a special-teams player and eventually worked his way up to starting fullback. He did it well enough to become a Pro Bowler.

Few Chiefs were involved in as many charitable endeavors as Richardson. That also made him one of the team’s most popular players.

So ingrained in Kansas City was Richardson that even Dye, his longtime agent, was surprised to see him leave. Among last season’s Chiefs, only Will Shields had been with the team longer.

“I know Tony plans to maintain his ties and relationships to Kansas City,” Dye said. “He will maintain his home there in Kansas City. As soon as these next couple of years are over, or how ever long he continues to play, he will be back in Kansas City full time.”

By then, he might be working for the Chiefs again. Peterson indicated Richardson may be offered a front-office position when his playing career is finished.

For now, at least, the Chiefs will move on without him. Their only fullback with NFL experience is Ronnie Cruz, who played mostly on special teams last season.

“Ronnie Cruz is a very talented young player who got better last year and who we are impressed with,” Peterson said. “And we’ve got some other players we think who could play there. Our fullback position is a little different than others. … There’s a lot of movement with it. We drafted (Kris Wilson) two years ago who we thought could fit in as a third tight end or an H-back. So we have some people there, but we have the draft coming up still and there’s other unrestricted free agents out there. We’ll look at all of the options.”

■ Defensive tackle Lional Dalton, another Chiefs unrestricted free agent, met with the Dolphins on Tuesday in Miami
Good news for Raiders fans, bad news for the Chiefs. Richardson was a good one. Tough to lose that kind of player.
Rupert said:
Good news for Raiders fans, bad news for the Chiefs. Richardson was a good one. Tough to lose that kind of player.
Well the Chiefs had actually not used T-Rich much last year......I love the guy and wish him the best in Minnesota....but we'll be OK without him, I think :)
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