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“One Game at a Time” vs. “Old Man Football”

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“I give credit to all my teammates because without them this win wouldn’t be possible.”

“We just went out there and worked hard, played hard and did what we needed to do.”

“All we’re doing is focusing on our next game. We’re taking it one game at a time.”

Yawn. These were just a few of the overly used quotes echoing throughout the media room into video cameras and audio recorders at Memorial Stadium after Mizzou’s win against Southeastern Louisiana. Players recycled familiar responses from scrimmages in the spring and summer-even games from last season- to comment on their performance.  Sometimes these quotes can be predictable depending on which player is speaking.

Fairly early in the post-game press conference, Sheldon Richardson emerged from the locker room and sat down on a chair on the side of the room. A handful of reporters shuffled over to stand around him and began asking typical post-game questions. Sheldon answered with quick responses, sound bites that wouldn’t last longer than 9 seconds each. He smiled at each reporter as he talked about Mizzou’s defense holding Southeastern Louisiana to 10 points.

A couple minutes into the interview, St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Vahe Gregorian –with his arm stretched over two shoulders with his recorder in hand- asked Sheldon what’s it like to be able to say Georgia is the next game.

“Welcome to the SEC. We’re going to see what this talk’s all about. That’s what I’m trying to see. This is it.”

The Columbia Tribune’s Dave Matter followed up by asking Sheldon if he watched any of Georgia’s game earlier that day. UGA beat Buffalo that afternoon 45-23.

Sheldon lowered his eyebrows as a serious look took over his face. “I watched that game…I turned it off, too.” The reporters surrounding him laughed out loud as he continued. “It’s like watching Big 10 football….it’s old man football. If we execute, nobody in this league can touch us. Period.”

***

Being outspoken has always been a part of Sheldon’s identity. The same player calling Georgia’s style of football “old man” is the same player whose twitter handle is ‘GodForShort’ and ‘‘The Messiah’ as the actual name on his profile. Sheldon established a reputation for making outlandish comments toward the end of last season. The Monday before Missouri would play Texas for the last time as members of the Big 12, Sheldon didn’t hold anything back in his commentary on UT.

“I hate people from Texas. I give people on our team from Texas a hard time because they’re from Texas. I hate Texas. I just do. I hate Texas. Any other overrated state in football I pretty much hate. That’s how I feel about it… Overrated. Overrated. Overrated. It’s blown out of proportion. It really is. I played against their best recruits and I wasn’t impressed, at all.”

The whole quote was pretty humorous since a handful of Sheldon’s friends on the Mizzou football team were from Texas. Sheldon was not invited to Media Day for the rest of the season after that.

**

This past Monday, there was no sign of the outspoken defensive tackle at Media Day. Sheldon’s quote about Georgia playing old man football was talked about everywhere on every medium from ESPN to SB Nation to my own local news station. One reporter jokingly asked Chad Moller (Mizzou’s media relations man) if Sheldon would be doing interviews that day. Moller responded, “He’s on a paid vacation from the media.”

Hopefully Sheldon’s vacation doesn’t turn into a season-long sojourn.  He’s one of the few players that makes our job as reporters fun. He’s not one to remind us that he’s working hard, not repeating anything about how he’s giving credit to all of his teammates, and he certainly won’t be the one to tell us he’s taking it one game at a time.

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