The NY Jets defensive lineman is in a heap of trouble. Already suspended for the first four games of this season on an NFL drug policy violation, Richardson made a big splash in the sports news in an auto-related incident.
It seems he was cruising along at 143 MPH in his Bentley. Yours truly has never been inside a Bentley before, much less driven one. Who knew a luxury car was capable of such speeds? In fact, I've never gone that fast except in an airplane, or perhaps running out of divorce court with my hair (and bank accounts) on fire a few years back. That was a sprint worthy of making Usain Bolt look like a tortoise, but I digress. Nonetheless, 143 can rightly be considered an excessive speed on most any road or highway. That's clipping right along.
Of course the media was all over this, but that's where the usual hype becomes disconnected from the facts. It is true one of Richardson's passengers in the car was a 12 year old. Whether the kid was enjoying the thrill of a high-speed ride or scared out of his wits is unknown. But it's generally not acceptable to put a child in such a situation.
Initial police "reports" say that upon being confronted by the officer(s), Richardson leaned forward, as if to reach for something. That sounds daunting, but who trusts anything the cops say lately? Besides, how does one fetch their registration and proof of insurance out of the glove box without reaching forward?
Ah, but after the car was searched, a "fully loaded semi-automatic weapon" was discovered. That sounds scary, but translated it equates to your average pistol. No word yet on whether he had a permit to legally have it in his possession. If so, this is a non-issue. For that matter, it has yet to be established who the gun belonged to in the first place. Other passengers were in the car.
And then there's the marijuana thing. The vehicle strongly smelled of weed, according to the same dubious "reports". Was somebody toking? Maybe. Was it Richardson himself? Nobody has said so. But anybody smoking dope in the same car with a 12 year old should know that's a very bad idea. Unless it was the kid himself. In which case, a serious time-out and counselling would seem appropriate.
So many questions and so few facts. But the media will typically run wild with speculation and the hordes of arm-chair prosecutors they goad on are already screaming for swift and harsh "justice" to be done. String Sheldon up by his thumbs, or at bare minimum suspend him for at least a year. And in the background, the ever-present kangaroo-court presided over by the Honorable Roger Goodell lies in wait with another "personal conduct policy" hammer that will likely hit Richardson on the head soon.
Yep, Sheldon Richardson appears to be in a heap of trouble. But when one looks objectively at it -- just what exactly did he do? Speeding? No doubt. A kid in the car when somebody was smoking dope? Bad idea, but hardly worthy of outrage. The gun thing could be a big deal or no deal at all. Lots of people carry guns in their cars, because they can -- legally.
How all this will turn out when the full truth becomes known is anybody's guess. It might just be Richardson deserves to be hammered. But it might also be this whole thing turns out to be just another case of the media and their hang-em-high lemmings jumping to wrong conclusions prematurely. It continues to happen all the time.
Case in point: Sports Illustrated contributor Michael McCann recently noted that of the 10 criminal prosecutions brought in baseball's steroid scandal against various players, they have ZERO convictions to show for it. The only one they got in the first place was a minor obstruction of justice charge against Barry Bonds and an appellate court just overturned it. How many millions did THAT futile witch hunt/wild goose chase cost the taxpayers?
One is free to believe what they wish on such matters, but it has become quite obvious that after due legal scrutiny the knee-jerkers are often proven wrong.
So let's just see where this whole Sheldon Richardson scenario goes before we heat up the tar, break out the feathers, and send him off into purgatory somewhere.
Is that too much to ask?