For all of the justifiable hand-wringing about poor role models inundating professional sports, it’s nice to be reminded every so often that there are young men of high moral character still competing in America’s “Big Three” sports leagues.
Sadly, every dumb thing a wildly popular athlete like Ja Morant may do typically garners all the headlines. Car crashes are more fascinating than a stream of cars following the speed limit, after all.
But it’s still important to note when athletes actually are good role models.
Case in point, a recent story making the rounds about Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson revealed a remarkably unassuming bit of humility for the fourth overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft.
During a Tuesday segment on local radio show “Kevin and Query,” Jake Query, one of the hosts, relayed a story that had been shared with him by someone who attended a recent luncheon where Colts general manager Chris Ballard originally recounted the story.
— Mr. Colt 🏈 (@TheRealMrColt) May 11, 2023
“[Ballard] told a story about Anthony Richardson and the NFL’s rookie orientation program,” Query said, recounting what the reader sent him. “Troy Vincent, of the NFL, called Ballard after the draft to tell him what an impact Anthony Richardson had left on him at the orientation program.”
Vincent is the NFL’s vice president of football operations.
Do you still watch the NFL?
Query continued: “Specifically, after the dinner attended by all potential draftees, the room was left a mess. Everyone was leaving and Troy Vincent saw one person who stayed behind and was bussing tables before the staff came back in the room. Vincent walked up and approached him and said, ‘You don’t need to do this.’
“To which Anthony Richardson responded, ‘We left this room in an unacceptable condition, and it’s not right for us to expect the staff to clean it all up.’”
That is a mighty impressive sentiment for a young man who literally will be able to hire staff once his first paycheck from the NFL clears.
It’s also a maddeningly rare message of self-accountability in a world where most elected lawmakers will do anything but own up to cleaning up their own messes. Even literally, could you ever imagine Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi helping the staff out after one of their guffawing luncheons?
“Vincent [told Richardson] that he was free to go, to which Richardson basically said, ‘No it’s alright, I’d like to stay and help,’ and he did, until the room was cleaned up entirely,” Query added. “And he was the last person working along with the workers of the shift.”
Again, this was a small, anecdotal story, but it paints such a powerful picture of what character should look like.
For the NFL, Richardson is just the latest in a new wave of rookie quarterbacks who appear to be cut from similar, upstanding cloth.
Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, the second overall pick, immediately praised his “Lord and Savior” after being selected in an awesome moment of faith.
Richardson similarly echoed praise for God leading up to the NFL Draft:
First, I want to thank God for everything He’s done in my life. Without Him, none of this would be possible. I would also like to thank the @NFL and everyone involved with the combine for helping me live out one of my childhood dreams. Thanks for the memories, to be continued! pic.twitter.com/xzzvgo2jnD
— Anthony Richardson † (@GVOaant) March 5, 2023
One last, curious, random tidbit: The AFC South, the division which includes the Colts, Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, might be the most pious division in all of football, at least in terms of quarterbacking. Richardson and Stroud are noted above, but Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has similarly never been shy about his faith. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the elder of this batch, has also been very upfront about his faith and what it means to him.
The eventual 2024 Super Bowl champions may not emerge from that historically moribund division, but as long as those four young men are the quarterbacks in it, it’ll be mighty difficult to ever describe any of those teams as “losers.”