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Trent Richardson ‘doing everything and anything to get back in the NFL’

Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Trent Richardson breaks a tackle during a Canadian Football League game against the Montreal Alouettes in Regina, Saskatchewan, on Oct. 27, 2017. (

Former Alabama All-American Trent Richardson still has hopes of playing in the NFL again. But he thinks if the Cleveland Browns hadn’t traded him, he wouldn’t be on the outside looking in now.

Richardson talked about his football future and his time in Cleveland on Tuesday afternoon during an appearance on "Bull and Fox" on WKRK-FM in Cleveland.

"I am doing everything and anything to get back in the NFL," Richardson said. "I just need a tryout. I just need a shot. And I know when I get that shot, the team will not be sorry for giving me that opportunity. It’ll be one of the best stories ever, one of the best comebacks ever."

Richardson hasn’t played in an NFL regular-season game since Dec. 28, 2014. After his third NFL season, the Indianapolis Colts released him.

Richardson went to training camp with the Oakland Raiders in 2015, but he didn’t make the team. Richardson got a chance with the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, but a hamstring problem and arthroscopic knee surgery kept him sidelined, and he was waived before he ever got on the field during training camp.

Last season, Richardson played in four games for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.

Richardson ran for 20 yards on five carries in a 27-24 victory over the Toronto Argonauts on Oct. 8, 60 yards on 14 carries in a 33-32 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks on Oct. 13 and 52 yards on nine carries in a 30-7 victory over the Calgary Stampeders on Oct. 20 before breaking out for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in a 37-12 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Oct. 27.

After his late arrival in the CFL, Richardson had an early exit, missing the Roughriders’ final regular-season game and their two playoff contests because of an ankle injury suffered late in the game against Montreal.

"I think it got better as it went along," Richardson said of his CFL performance. "The first couple of games, I didn’t touch the ball that much because I came in and it was already started. Picking up the plays on the go is different."

Richardson said he wouldn’t rule out returning to the CFL if he didn’t catch on with an NFL team.

"I’m not saying it’s off the radar," Richardson said. "I owe the CFL a lot for giving me the opportunity to come out there and showcase my talents, give me another chance. (Saskatchewan) coach Chris Jones has been a big influence and a very positive role in my life. I talk to him almost every other day. We text all the time. I send guys his way that played at Alabama or guys that I know that can still play."

Richardson said the CFL had allowed him to fall in love with football again and to play for himself. He said he was grateful to the Roughriders for "digging out that dog in me again."

"Last time I got to play for myself, I was a little boy," Richardson said.

Richardson won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best collegiate running back and finished third in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy while helping Alabama win the 2011 BCS national championship.

The Cleveland Browns selected Richardson with the third choice in the 2012 NFL Draft and signed him to a four-year, guaranteed contract worth $20,489,796. Richardson moved to Cleveland with his brother, mother, children, girlfriend, cousins and a friend.

Despite several injuries, Richardson ran for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns on 267 carries and caught 51 passes for 367 yards and one TD in 15 games in his rookie season.

But two games into his second NFL season, Cleveland traded Richardson to the Colts for a first-round draft choice.

"I know it would have went way better for me, man," Richardson said when asked how he envisioned his career if he hadn’t been traded. "When that happened, it just really took a lot from me, man, like love for the game. … I didn’t respect it no more. I never played football for the business part. I never played football for the dollar. I played football because I loved football. That’s always been my first love."

Richardson said he thought he was going to play his whole career in Cleveland.

"I’m still wondering to this day: How did I get traded?" Richardson said.

In two seasons in Indianapolis, Richardson ran for 977 yards and six touchdowns on 316 carries and caught 55 passes for 494 yards and one touchdown in 29 games. In three playoff games with the Colts, he carried the ball four times for 1 yard.

Richardson called Indianapolis "just a bad marriage for me."

"If we’re throwing the ball 55 times a game, what was the reason for me getting traded over here?" Richardson said.

But Richardson also said he had regrets about what he put into his time with the Colts.

"I shouldn’t have been down about being traded," Richardson said.

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Richardson told ESPN in 2016 that family and friends spent $1.6 million of his money from January to October in 2015 — the first 10 months after his release from the Colts.

"My heart was so big, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but I was so used to doing for everybody else and making sure everybody else was situated," Richardson said. "I forgot the most important part was to take care of myself and my kids. I took care of my kids all along, but everything else that came with it, I was doing that and leaving myself out, not worrying about myself and that was my biggest thing.

"And that’s one of the things (Alabama) coach (Nick) Saban said before I left. It was like: ‘Trent, I don’t have a problem with you leaving and I know you’re going to do your thing with football. But my biggest thing, Trent, is you caring about yourself instead of other people. You’re a big-hearted person.’ That’s one thing that we always went back and forth about. We had like a leadership-group meeting. … I was the player, I was the captain of the team that used to vouch for the guys that used to get in trouble. Tell them, ‘We can’t send them back home. It’s going to be worse’ or stuff like that. That was me. I was fighting for the cause and trying to make sure everybody was still playing, was on the team and part of something because everybody don’t have that opportunity and that talent and everybody don’t have that guidance."

Richardson said the CFL allowed him to get away from everything except football.

"I know it wasn’t going to be easy trying to get back into the league, dealing with the stuff that I have dealt with," Richardson said. "And people just like, ‘Can he still play and can he this and that?’ Me going to the CFL, the biggest reason was to step into the door like, ‘Hey, I can still do this.’ I can run routes. I can definitely block. That’s never been a problem. I can run the ball. If you get in front of me, I’m still going to run you over. I’m going to get past you some type of way."

Richardson said he has maintained a close relationship with the Alabama football program through his ups and downs.

"I talk to Nick Saban all the time," Richardson said. "I actually go down and talk to the running-back group of guys all the time, too. And coach (Burton) Burns, too. I talk to Saban if not every other week, then every two weeks. I talk to him all the time. Me and Saban always had a close relationship. That’s like a father to me. I can never repay him or that group at Alabama, that coaching staff or my running-backs coach, coach Burns, for what they have done for me in my life and my family.

"And so I go in to talk to him all the time and he tells me, ‘Trent, all you need is an opportunity, man, because I know you’ve got it.’"

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Alabama linebacker VanDarius Cowan (43) at practice in October 2017.
Wetumpka 2019 ATH J.D. Martin has plenty of college offers, though neither Auburn nor Alabama is among them at the moment. (Dennis Victory | preps@al.com)

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