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SPORTS: Full(back) of servanthood

MULKEYTOWN, Ill. (BP)–At 8-0, the Kansas City Chiefs are clearly the NFL’s best team this year.

They’ve already won big games against Denver and at Green Bay and Baltimore, and their remaining schedule really poses only two threats — games at Denver and at Minnesota. An undefeated season — which would be the NFL’s first since the Dolphins did it in 1972 — is not out of the question.

The keys to the Chiefs’ success are numerous. In Dick Vermeil, they have a proven winner for a coach. In Priest Holmes, they have the most dominating running back in the game. In Tony Gonzalez, they have the league’s best tight end. In Dante Hall, they have one of the most surprising, most electrifying kick returners the NFL has seen in years.

And in fullback Tony Richardson, the Chiefs have a true leader and someone whose contributions off the field more than compensate for anything he lacks on the gridiron.

Although he’s not one of Kansas City’s statistical leaders (Richardson has rushed for 45 yards on 18 carries this year), Richardson has earned the admiration and respect of Vermeil and his teammates for all the charity work he does.

His efforts aren’t going unnoticed by others, as Pro Football Weekly recently honored Richardson with its annual Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian Award for his commitment to service in the community.

Richardson has devoted his time to such worthy causes as the Special Olympics, Athletes in Action, local churches and other charities and youth organizations in the Kansas City area. According to PFW, Richardson has made more than 100 public appearances for charity in each of the last four years.

Richardson also established the Rich in Spirit Foundation in 2000 “to extend a helping hand in order to uplift the lives and spirits of individuals whom society has turned their backs on. … His goal is to build a solid foundation, both physically and spiritually, for individuals who need the most help, particularly children,” according to PFW. “He participates daily in the foundation’s activities and has a hands-on approach with all organizations affiliated with the Rich in Spirit Foundation.”

Why all the sacrifice for others? Richardson says that’s what God expects.

“Being in the NFL as long as I have, it’s not an accident that I’m here,” Richardson told PFW. “I realize now that God put me in this place so I can help other people. So I don’t want to limit myself and say, ‘Well, I’m only going to help this group and not help that group.’ That’s why any organization or charity or people that I think I can help, I do. It doesn’t have to be a monetary thing — it may just be visiting someone in the hospital and letting them know someone’s in their corner and praying for them. You definitely touch someone’s life in that regard.”

Many Chiefs fans will be disappointed if their team doesn’t win the Super Bowl this year. But for many of the underprivileged in Kansas City, that doesn’t really matter. They know they have an advocate in Richardson, and their lives are a little better because he has cared enough to help.
Tim Ellsworth is a regular columnist for BP Sports, online at www.bpsports.net.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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