Jay Richardson - Bring the Pain

Discipline, hard work and perseverance are trademarks of the Oakland Raiders star defensive end Jay Richardson. In a league where premiere defensive players are hard to find, Raider Nation has embraced Jay Richardson as a playmaker and star. Over his three seasons in the NFL, Richardson has amassed 82 tackles, 27 assists and 7.0 sacks solidifying his role as a reliable contributor and cornerstone in their legendary defensive unit.

Richardson’s collegiate career began at The Ohio State University, where he majored in African-American studies. The Dublin, Ohio, native was drafted in 2007 by the Oakland Raiders in the 5th round (138th overall), and ever since, Jay has been a testament to consistency in the NFL.

Giving back to the community comes as naturally to Jay as does sacking star quarterbacks. In his off-season home of Columbus, Ohio, Jay remains true to his roots and gives annually to his church. He currently has started The Jay Richardson Foundation, which offers a series of interactive workshops for athletes and their parents to address issues of education and athletics.

With such a promising career in full motion ahead of him, Jay Richardson embodies the essence of a true athlete. He knows how to perform at the very top level of the game, but never forgets that family and community provide his foundation.

Q & A » » » » » »

What was your favorite toy as a child?
Transformers. I had maybe every Transformer you can imagine, from Bumble Bee to Optimus Prime to Transformers you’ve never heard of. I have Metroplex, the whole city. I had so many Transformers, I had a box, and I mean a big cardboard box, full of Transformers. I was an addict [laughs].
What would you do if you were told you only have two months to live?
Oh, boy. I would have answered this question a lot differently about six months ago, and the answer would have involved a lot of sex. But, it’s going to be different. Honestly, my family’s most important to me. I’d round up all my family, man, everybody I love, and we would all get on a cruise ship. I’d want to meet Barak Obama, at least one time, talk to the guy for a little while, ask him what it’s like to wake up every morning knowing you’re running the world, or at least a free world here. And I’d also want to know if he’s got an alarm clock. Like, who wakes him up in the morning? Is it Michelle, like, “Honey, get up.”? Or is there a guy at the front door who rings a bell and has his towel? Is it someone out front in a suit with an ear piece that says, “Sir, it’s time to get up.” And what if he doesn’t feel like getting up? Can he sleep in?

Beer, wine or liquor? What’s your drink of choice?
I’m a liquor guy. I mean, this is kind of a girly wine, but I like a Riesling from time to time if I’m with a female friend. But honestly, I love vodka. I could drink vodka all day long. You’d think I was Eastern European I love vodka so much. Jay-Z talked me into Belvedere forever ago and I never turned.

What is your pet peeve?
How much time you got? [laughs] People that drive slow in the fast lane. I drive a ’09 Dodge Challenger when I’m out on the West Coast, and that thing’s a V-8 hemi; it gets up. I can’t stand being in the fast lane, especially in Cali, and someone’s doing 55 and I’m trying to do 85; it’s just ridiculous.

What’s one thing you do on a daily basis?
[Laughs] I’ll be honest, this particular season, I turned into a video game junkie and only for one particular video game – Call of Duty Modern War Fair II. I like video games; I like to kick it and relax and unwind, but for some reason, when this thing dropped in November, it literally took the world by storm. Our whole team was online playing that thing. It almost cost me two relationships; it is that bad, and I didn’t care. I play it religiously. I mean, I get home from practice and get done with team drills and meetings and we’re all online playing it together. That’s something I’ve been doing every single day for the last six months.

What’s the first thing you would do if you were the president of the NFL?
Right off the bat, first thing I would do is make sure that all the guys that used to play all the “old timers” back in the ’40s – I don’t care if it’s ’60s, ’70s, all those guys who are still missing some checks, that put it out there on the line and are now messed up with their bills and can barely walk and
see straight, I’m making sure that all those guys are taken care of and compensated. I don’t know how I’m going to change it, but I’m going get something for those guys.

If you could live anywhere in the entire world, where would it
be and why?
That’s a hard question. I’ve never been to Paris, always wanted to go, but I love the United States. I mean, this is the best country in the world. There is no country where you get this kind of freedom and liberty and this kind of respect as a human being. So, I’ve got to say the United States and probably somewhere warm. I mean, I definitely love San Diego. You’re talking about the weather there, the people, the women, the environment, it’s not far from L.A. if you want to party.

Are you superstitious?
Yes and no. Yes, I’m superstitious in the sense that if I get a sack in a game, whatever cleats I had on, whatever socks I had on, I’m wearing those exact same cleats and socks next game.

So, you don’t think luck helped you get that sack?
No, I don’t believe in luck. I’ve never believed in luck my whole life. Hard work gets you where you are. No one ever got lucky. Guys who work their butts off at something they grind and grind. It’s the same way with the businessman and CEO, Steve Jobbs. He’s always wanted to make an IPod and has been trying to figure it out forever and how to get the system down to where he can make a portable music player for everyone to love. He finally gets the formula correct, gets it to the manufacturer and built and has it in his hand and shows it to the world and people say, “You had a lucky idea.” The hell if he did, he’s been trying to figure this out for years and he struck gold. That’s not because he’s lucky; it’s because he worked his ass off and figured it out.

Luck is ______.
Where hard work and opportunity meet – always will be. The second you do what you’re supposed to do, it’s not luck.

Do you believe in ghosts or aliens?
I’ve always looked at aliens like this: I believe in God, and believe he put us all here on Earth for a reason and believe he made this entire universe. So, in my opinion, why would he build this huge, bad-ass universe and just stick us here? Talk about waste!

Favorite phrase?
“Everybody has a plan until they get hit.” That’s the realest phrase I’ve ever heard. If you go into a football game, life, an office job, a corporate job, and you’ve got a plan, everyone has a plan, you plan out what you’re going to do when you go anywhere, how you want your day to go, how you want your life to go, and then you take a hit. It could be a hit you take on the football field by a fullback that you didn’t see coming because you were watching the receiver, or you could take a hit by a close relative dying. You had all this planned out and now your life has taken a hit. Everyone has a plan until they get hit. And it’s not about not getting hit, because you’re going to get hit; it’s how you react to that hit. Do you get your ass back up and go to work? Or do you feel sorry for yourself and start figuring out reasons as to why you shouldn’t get to where you’re going? Shut up and go to work; you’ll be alright.

What is your comfort food?
I’ll tell you right now – my mother and stepfather own a business called Black Orchid Catering, and my stepfather is one of the best cooks I’ve ever been around. He can make anything and imitate any food. You go to Red Lobster and they have those cheddar biscuits – he can make those and make it taste just like that, he’s that good. He does high-end catering for people out of his home like politicians and others who probably don’t want to be mentioned, but he’ll go into their home and cater their parties. This guy can
cook anything.

Favorite condiment?
Ketchup. You can put ketchup on anything.

Children are _______.
Flawless because they don’t know any better. There is nothing kids can do wrong. They’re trying to figure out what the hell is going on in the world. And that’s the beauty of it.

Fondest memory?
My mother used to take me everywhere when I was a young kid. I’ll never forget she used to always take me to business meetings and I would sit in the waiting room inside these nice corporate offices while she was in there doing her meetings and I would talk to the secretaries. I’ve been in the Pentagon and a lot of places with her. But honestly, my fondest memory is just hanging out with my mother, just driving around in the car. She spoke fluent French, she was a French major at Ohio State and taught French and lived in France for a little while, so she would speak French to me. So, my fondest memory is just hanging out with her and following her to all of her big events and being, like, her little man who she used to put suits on and go kick it.

What are you afraid of?
I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I don’t fear anything. The lord puts things in front of you and you never know what’s going to happen. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.

What’s the best gift you have ever given someone?
I gave my mother and stepfather gym memberships. It sounds cheesy, right? Like, who wants that for a gift? But, my mother’s health was in question for a while and my grandmother had just recently had a stroke and lost use of her legs, and my mother said, “I don’t want that to ever be me.” So, I got her a gym membership and said we’re going to get you in shape and get you a trainer. My mother has lost 40 pounds in the last six months and was on the Dr. Oz Show.

Baseball’s greatest hitters are now being reconsidered for their drug use, namely steroids. How do enhancement drugs play a role in the NFL?
It’s not nearly as prevalent in the NFL as in other sports, particularly baseball. In the NFL, all testing is so thorough. First of all, you’re terrified to take any kind of substance. Me, personally, and this is the God’s honest truth, I’ve never taken any protein powder, muscle milk, anything. This is what I am. I eat some junk food, I eat whatever. I work out and I try to eat right and I show up to work. Every now and then I might take a recovery drink after workouts, but other than that, nothing. That’s just how I am.

What is something most people would consider a huge shock about your industry?
We have weight limitations and we get fined $400 per pound for being out of your weight range. My rookie year, I had to be in between 273 and 278 pounds, so I had a five-pound window, and if for some reason I came in at 282, that is four pounds out of my range. Light or heavy, that’s $16,000 that comes out of my check. You’d be surprised – it’s almost like we’re supermodels, there is a pressure to keep a certain weight. So, you’ll see guys not eating the day before weigh-in and working out in trash bags just to make sure they make their weight. They don’t want to lose that money.

Who is the smartest person you’ve met in the League?
Pro bowl cornerback number #21 for the Oakland Raiders, Cal graduate, Nom Di Asem Wea. He was born in Nigeria, I believe, and played a few different sports. You know Cal guys are already mental guys, very smart. This guy breaks down more film than any player and maybe even coach on the team.

Editor’s Note: Jay Richardson was placed on Injured Reserve before the start of the 2010 NFL season. He was later waived by the Oakland Raiders with an injury settlement. He is undergoing rehab and will re-enter the NFL market later this year.