For the second consecutive year, the New York Jets will start the new season without their star defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. The NFL announced on Thursday that Richardson will be suspended for one regular season game for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, following his arrest in 2015.
Richardson was arrested in July after he was clocked driving at 143 miles per hour in his Bentley Silver Spur along a Missouri highway. After initially fleeing from police, he was eventually stopped following a chase and was found to have a 12 year old relative in the car, alongside a loaded handgun and the clear smell of marijuana. There was not enough evidence for any drug charges or endangering a minor, but Richardson was charged with resisting arrest, exceeding the speed limit, following too closely, failing to use lights and failing to obey a traffic signal. He was able to avoid jail time by pleading guilty to reduced charges and received two years of probation and 100 hours of community service.
The incident occurred barely two weeks after the NFL announced Richardson’s four game suspension for the 2015 season after his violation of the league’s substances of abuse policy. Ironically, he had promised the Jets that “my name will not be in the news again,” following the announcement of that indiscretion.
One time Pro-Bowler and former defensive rookie of the year, Richardson is a key part of the Jets’ monster defensive line. In 2015, alongside Mo Wilkerson, Damon Harrison and Leonard Williams, he played a pivotal role in the Jets’ ranking second in the league in rushing defense and fourth in total defense. With Harrison gone to the Giants, the gap left by Richardson in the season opener against the Bengals will be keenly felt, especially considering that Mo Wilkerson is still to sign his franchise tag. Leonard Williams will need to step up to fill this gap.
It could have been much worse for Richardson and the Jets. Considering the details of the case, they may feel like they’ve dodged a bullet with only a one game ban. The fact that the NFL does not look kindly on repeat offenders (despite last years’ suspension being an unrelated issue), made many believe a longer punishment was on the cards. However, the Jets have many unanswered questions this offseason and could surely do without the loss of one of their stars going into a season with a challenging schedule.
Photo credit: www.foxsports.com