(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the Trent Richardson interview, fast-forward to 12:45 of the above attachment)
Two weeks into the season, and the Alliance of American Football is making an impact – and if you don’t believe it, check the TV ratings. The league outdrew the NBA its first week of play.
But its reach goes far beyond TV. It goes to players like running back Trent Richardson, once the third overall pick of the NFL draft and now a guy trying to make it back to an NFL that he tried … and left … after only three seasons with Cleveland and Indianapolis.
And so far, so good.
Richardson scored twice in Birmingham’s season-opening victory and, one week later, produced the go-ahead touchdown Sunday in the Iron’s 12-9 come-from-behind victory over Salt Lake. He leads the unbeaten Iron in rushing, is tied for the team lead in catches and leads the AAF in touchdowns with three.
He says it’s all about having “fun” again, and that's great. But it’s more than that. It’s about getting another chance of making it in the NFL, too.
“Most definitely,” he said on the Talk of Fame Network’s latest broadcast. “It’s a big stepping stone right here to get back to the big show. That’s what this league is built for – guys to get back to the NFL or guys who never got a shot at the NFL. Or even for the coaches.
“I know a lot of coaches want to get to the NFL. My coach (Tim Lewis) … he’s never been a head coach before. He got turned down for a job he never should’ve been turned down for. You see what he’s doing. You see the product he’s putting out there with his defense.
“Nobody (last week) scored a point. That’s big. And for me … just to be able to play with him and to be coached underneath him … you don’t hear nothing but great things about him. The whole coaching staff he put together are winners.”
As he speaks, Richardson seems confident and happy … mostly because he is. As a matter of fact, he said he’s having “fun” for the first time in years, and you can see why: He plays at Birmingham’s Legion Field, where he once starred for the University of Alabama; he plays in front of his family; he’s finding the end zone again and he’s on a team that hasn’t lost.
In many ways, it’s what he was doing before Cleveland made him its first pick of the 2012 NFL draft.
“I love Birmingham and always love Bama fans,” he said. “Just being back on that field and with those group of guys … and being able to play for myself and my family … that was the biggest thing for me. I never got a chance to really actually play for them and never really got a chance to actually play for me. It was just fun.”
Bottom line: He’s back.
“I’m ready to start my new career in the AAF and do what I can from here,” he said, “and (make) a statement with anything I do.”