Sheldon Richardson has already been suspended four games by the NFL for drug use. The New York Jets defensive lineman is now facing trouble with the law.
Richardson, a former Missouri Tiger, was charged Thursday in St. Charles County, Mo., with resisting arrest and multiple traffic violations for an incident on July 14 – only two weeks after his NFL-issued drug suspension for marijuana use.
Richardson, entering his third NFL season, spoke to reporters after the team’s first practice of training camp – but before the news broke about the charges. The Jets were not aware of the incident until they saw media reports.
“I apologized to my teammates and my organization and I told them they don’t have to worry about my name being in the news again,” Richardson said of the drug suspension.
Shortly after that, FOX-affiliate KTVI in Missouri first reported the charges against Richardson, who resides in O'Fallon, Missouri.
According to a release issued by the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Richardson was driving at “exceedingly high rates of speed” on Interstate 64 in “what appeared to be a road race.”
In the police’s probable cause report, an officer stated that Richardson and the other vehicle were traveling at speeds as high as 143 mph. When the officer attempted to make routine traffic stops on the vehicles, Richardson sped away.
The 24-year-old Richardson was identified as the driver of a 2014 Bentley Silver Spur, which also went through a traffic light before the Jets player turned off all of the car’s lights and pulled into the driveway of a home that wasn’t his. Police pulled behind the car and ordered Richardson and his two adult male passengers out of the car at gunpoint – because an officer said he saw Richardson reach for something between his feet.
According to the incident report, Richardson exited the car, along with the passengers and a 12-year-old boy. A fully loaded semi-automatic handgun was found underneath the driver’s side floor mat, and the officer said the car smelled of marijuana.
Richardson was issued traffic summonses, and has been ordered to appear in St. Charles County Circuit Court on Oct. 27 for arraignment on the charge of resisting arrest, a class A misdemeanor. He was not charged for the gun possession or marijuana. A conviction for resisting arrest is punishable by up to one year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Richardson’s passengers were not charged.
In a statement, the Jets said they were aware of the situation and were “gathering information.” They added that it’s a “pending legal matter” and would have no further comment at this time.
While speaking to reporters for the first time since his suspension was announced, Richardson insisted he wouldn’t fail another NFL-issued drug test – even though he had previously failed an unspecified number of others.
“Yeah,” he said when asked if he could guarantee not having another failed test, “because I’m not a dope fiend.”
Richardson was suspended by the league on July 2 without pay for the first four games of this season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He’s allowed to practice with the team until the regular season begins.
“I failed every drug test and this drug test, so there was no reason to appeal it,” Richardson said. “I take full accountability for my actions.”
Added coach Todd Bowles: “His actions will speak louder than his words going forward.”
Richardson, who made the Pro Bowl last season, worked with the second-team defense during the Jets’ first practice of training camp while first-round draft pick Leonard Williams and veteran Leger Douzable split time with the starters.
“Seeing yourself going from Pro Bowl to second string, can’t do nothing but be disappointed in yourself,” Richardson said. “I’m just a little disappointed and embarrassed for my parents’ sake. NFL guys mess up, and the world knows about it. My family goes through a lot. People don’t know how to talk to them at work anymore. Those things like that, that gets to you. I put my family before myself, and this team.”
Richardson wouldn’t detail what led to him failing multiple drug tests and ultimately being suspended, other than to say: “Personal reasons. Like I said, you all don’t know my life, so you wouldn’t understand that.”
He reiterated that he’s “not a dope fiend, man,” and added that he could have said no, but “I just chose not to.”
“I was in a depressing time in my offseason, and that’s just that,” Richardson said. “It’s just that simple, bro. There’s money on the line. My money is worth more than some weed.”
A St. Louis native and Gateway High School graduate, Richardson transferred to Missouri after two years at a California junior college. He played for the Tigers in 2011 and 2012.
Richardson was suspended from the team for an unspecified rules violation on November 2012 and announced two weeks later he would enter the NFL Draft instead of finishing his senior year. He finished the season tied for second on the team with 75 tackles, a figure that led all defensive tackles in the SEC.