Tony Richardson

It’s been a long journey from where I began to where I am now.

The first time I played organized football was in the 9th grade, and I had to ask some of the other players how to put the pads in the uniform. Now, I’m an All-Pro fullback with the Kansas City Chiefs

In between was a lot of growth and development, some of it coming as the result of study and hard work and effort, some as the result of direction and coaching, and some as the result of experience.

After I figured out how to get the pads in, I went to work. I scored a touchdown in my first game playing on the 9th grade team, and later that year moved up to the Varsity. High School was an extraordinary experience for me, especially after a new head coach arrived for my senior year. He gave me some direction and encouragement, and the recruiting offers came pouring in.

I chose Auburn, where I started out playing on the scout team with the defense. After the first day of practice, the coach said, "We’ve got to find a place for you to play", and by the end of the year, I became the only freshman, other than Bo Jackson, to start on the varsity.

I signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys, played one year on their practice squad, and then signed a two-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s when my football career blossomed.

It’s been a long journey from not knowing how to put the pads in to being an All-Pro, and, in some ways, my faith journey has been equally long. I’ve grown so much over the years. And I understand things now that I didn’t before.

I had always gone to church. I grew up in the South, so it was simply part of my routine. But no one had ever told me what it meant to have a relationship with God. I was actually President of the FCA during my senior year, but I wasn’t living with any conviction at all. I was doing things I shouldn’t have been. I was going to church, but I wasn’t really sold out to the Lord. And there were times when the pastor would give an altar call, and I simply wouldn’t go. I didn’t want to give the impression that I didn’t have it together, even though I knew there were things I needed to surrender. My pride got in the way. Looking back, it was like I didn’t even know how to put the pads in.

And then, I attended a revival at my church. There were thousands of people there, but I felt the pastor had looked right into my heart. And when he gave an altar call, there wasn’t even a decision. I went forward and gave everything to the Lord. I knew I couldn’t go on living the way I had been.

People had always thought I was an honorable man. They thought I had it all together, and, for a while, I did too. I went to church and I knew the Word – but I wasn’t living it. And because I wasn’t living it, I felt an emptiness inside.

Once I gave everything to the Lord, I discovered my purpose in life is to share what God has done for me, and to bring people to Christ. My purpose is to share with people that Jesus died and rose again for them. As a single and celibate Christian athlete, I have many opportunities to share with people how wonderful the journey of faith is.

It’s a long journey from not knowing how to put in the pads to being an All-Pro.

And it’s a long journey from simply going to church to having the peace that comes from knowing the Lord.

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