|Richardson appreciates Brown's comments. (AP)|
It's not how Trent Richardson wanted to begin his NFL career, but this is Cleveland, where things rarely go as planned. The Browns selected the former Alabama running back third overall in April's draft, and he'll be a big part (along with No. 22 pick quarterback Brandon Weeden) of any success the team has in 2012 (Cleveland native Drew Carey defines that success as 8-8).
Hall of Famer and former Browns great Jim Brown wasn't quite so enthusiastic about the Browns taking Richardson, and in typical Jim Brown fashion he spoke frankly on the matter last month.
“When you think of greatness and the great backs, they all had some individual traits that you can identify -- quickness, balance, power, speed,” Brown said. “I think the kid is a good working back, and if you've got everything else around him he can play his role. But when it comes to outstanding, I don't see anything outstanding about him. It's not said in a cruel manner. He's very efficient, and that's what you want. ...
"I'm not trying to be mean. There are certain people you look at and there's something special about them. I don't see it.”
That's Brown's right, particularly as someone who played for and supports an organization that can kindly be described as hapless since returning to the NFL as an expansion team in 1999.
To Richardson's credit, he harbors no hard feelings towards Brown, who could easily be written off as a cranky out-of-touch old-timer pining for those halcyon days that, upon closer inspection, weren't nearly as idyllic as they're portrayed. Instead, Richardson opted for diplomacy.
“For him to be an icon and someone you look up to, hopefully I have half the career that man did,” he said, according to FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez. “I haven't done anything yet. But I know in my head that I've got to show everybody I'm not an ordinary running back.
“To hear comments like that is nothing but motivation. I don't have to debate and talk about my game. I let my film show it.”
And that's exactly the right thing to say. Richardson continued with the positive message.
“I want to be the best thing that ever happened to Cleveland,” he told Marvez last week during the NFL Rookie Symposium. “I want to be that type of all-time guy when it comes down to it.”
Until training camp begins in a few weeks, that means returning to Pensacola, Fla., to work out with his high school coach, something Richardson did with much success during his college career. And thanks to Brown, he won't be lacking motivation, either.
“It means a lot to me when somebody tells me I can't do something,” he said. “When (Brown) put me as one caliber of player when I know that I'm a much greater player, I'm going to strive to be a greater player than anyone who came in as a rookie. That's how I want my career to start off.”
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