Trent Richardson’s rookie season was productive — and painful.
Cleveland’s running back revealed Monday that he played most of his first season in the NFL with two broken ribs, an injury that not only made it tough to play but even sleep.
“I still can’t lay flat on my back or on my side,” Richardson said, “but it’s going to come around, and I know I’ll be healthy before next season.”
Richardson, who sat out Sunday’s season finale in Pittsburgh with a sprained left ankle, hurt his ribs Oct. 14 against Cincinnati. For the next three or four weeks he said he needed help getting into a shower and dressing. He slept propped up.
But he never missed a game and endured pain that would have sidelined most players.
“It’s real tough playing like that, and I’m the type of guy when anything is hurting, if I feel like I can play, I can play,” he said. “I played the whole season like that. Talking to Jim Brown and a lot of guys, they were like, ‘I don’t know how you’re doing it.’”
The Browns listed Richardson as having a rib cartilage injury throughout the season on their injury report. The first-round draft pick wore a protective jacket over his ribs and finished with 950 yards, breaking many of Hall of Famer Jim Brown’s team rookie rushing records — despite missing the entire exhibition season following arthroscopic knee surgery.
Richardson was mostly disappointed with his season. The injuries never allowed him to recover or get close to being 100 percent healthy. He didn’t have the same explosiveness or quickness as he did in college as an All-American at Alabama.
He vowed to come back stronger next season.
“It’s going to be a big year,” he said.
Richardson’s toughness impressed his teammates.
“It’s unbelievable,” rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “Most guys would completely shut it down and say, ‘Oh, I’m getting paid.’ That’s not his thing. He’s a competitor. He knew how tough a player he was, how much he meant to this team. I applaud him. It’s amazing what he was able to do with such a beat-up body.”
In probably his last NFL-related ruling, U.S. District Judge David Doty sided with the league this time.
The NFL Players Association’s claim of collusion by league owners was rejected on Monday by Doty, who has previously sided with the players during more than two decades of judging NFL labor matters. The league lost enough key decisions under Doty’s jurisdiction that it twice tried to have him removed from his role as the sport’s legal referee, alleging bias.
But as Doty heard arguments in his Minneapolis federal courtroom in September, the league expressed no concern with the judge and confidence it would win this case.
That faith was rewarded. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Doty’s decision “speaks for itself.”
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said the players respect Doty’s order, but “it does not mean that the owners didn’t collude.”
The players filed their lawsuit in May, claiming the NFL imposed a secret salary cap during the uncapped 2010 season that cost the players at least $1 billion. Four teams were punished for overspending and undermining competitive balance, with Dallas and Washington hit most severely with future cap reductions.
The 49ers parted ways for good with running back Brandon Jacobs on Monday, an expected move after the outspoken player was suspended for the final three regular-season games. Jacobs had five carries for 7 yards while playing in only two games and being active for just three for the NFC West champions. … Veteran offensive lineman Ryan Lilja, who helped block for Peyton Manning during the Colts’ Super Bowl-winning 2006 season, announced his retirement Monday from the Chiefs. … DeAngelo Williams, the Panthers’ all-time leading rusher, said that despite getting benched in Week 7 and not playing a major role on offense for most of the season he hopes to return for an eighth year in Carolina. Williams has three years remaining on a five-year contract worth $43 million that included a $16 million signing bonus.