INDIANAPOLIS – They walked in one after the other, smiling – beaming, actually – and fresh off experiencing Jim Irsay’s private jet that delivered the future of the Indianapolis Colts from Kansas City.
The leader of the entourage and the man of the hour actually took a second to introduce himself.
“Hello, hello,’’ he said. “How y’all doin’? I’m excited to be here. I can’t wait to help this franchise. I can’t wait to impact this city.
“I’m Anthony Richardson, and that’s that.’’
Of course he was Anthony Richardson. He became the latest much-hyped quarterback given the daunting task of shepherding the Colts from the darkness to something much brighter.
As first-year head coach Shane Steichen noted Thursday night when the team selected Richardson with the No. 4 pick in the NFL draft: “We’ve got to build this thing around the quarterback.’’
So there he was. Richardson sat in front of the Indy media at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, less than 24 hours after the festivities in Kansas City.
He spoke of his top-30 visit to Indy when Steichen beat him in bowling.
“I love him,’’ Richardson said. “Kinda mad at him right now because he beat me at bowling when I was here on my visit. That kind of got to me.’’
He announced he planned on wearing No. 5 with the Colts after captivating NFL scouts with his immense, diverse skills while wearing No. 15 at Florida.
“That’s the first number I had playing football in Miami when I was little, little, little, really small’’ he said. “That’s what set the foundation for me.
“I used to roll out the No. 2 because of Cam (Newton). I love No. 2. I don’t want to be known as the guy who wants to be like Cam anymore. I just want to be myself and set the standard and the priorities for myself.’’
Richardson also discussed how he’ll focus on improving his lackluster 54% completion rate in his 13 starts at Florida, and that much of Steichen’s recruitment centered on using him in Indy similar to how he maximized Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia.
“I’m definitely excited for it because I feel like I can perform the same way that Jalen did in that type of offense,’’ he said.
But perhaps the most critical info dealt with the family and close associates who have been there during Richardson’s formative years – he turns 21 May 22 – were there with him Thursday in Kansas City and shared Irsay’s private jet Friday.
“Oh, my goodness,’’ Richardson said. “It’s been everything I can dream of and a little bit more.
“I’m excited my family gets to experience it with me. I’m excited to know where home is finally.’’
He made it a point to introduce those who made everything possible: mother, LaShawnda Cleare, and stepfather, Ferrell Cleare; brother Corey Carter; close friend Emmanuel Fort; agent Deiric Jackson; manager/mentor Vernell Brown Jr. and his wife Emiliana; and another agent, Melvin Bratton.
“That’s my support cast right there,’’ Richardson said. “My system right there.’’
Irsay’s jet returned the group to Gainesville, Fla. Friday evening, but Richardson will be back May 4 for the Colts’ rookie minicamp.
“Pack some things and get ready to move to Indy,’’ he said.
Soon thereafter, he’ll be joined by his support staff.
“Mom, stepdad, little brother and my manager and his family is going to come,’’ Richardson said.
Don’t casually dismiss the pending relocation of the Richardson clan.
“It’s definitely going to keep me grounded,’’ he said. “They’ve been with me throughout my whole life helping me get to this point. Just making sure I have them in my corner, keeping me grounded and letting me remember who I am as a person and not just about ball and why I’m doing it.
“I do it for my family. I do it because I want to be great.’’
Richardson stressed he’s done things the proper way.
“I worked hard for it,’’ he said, adding he’s never allowed complacency to seep in. “Obviously I showcased I can be a huge talent, but there’s a lot of things I can clean.
“Growing up, I always thought about Tom Brady, the way he worked. He had seven rings (and) people say he’s the greatest. But I always heard he’s constantly trying to get better day by day. I thought ‘How can a guy that great try to get better every single day?’
“I haven’t done the things that he’s done. I’m like, ‘OK, I can definitely get better. If that guy’s getting better, I can get better myself.’’’
Richardson is driven to be that next link on the chain of Colts’ quarterback greats. Peyton Manning. Andrew Luck.
“Great QBs played here before I did and I want to be a part of that list,’’ he said. “I will be a part of that list because I’ll make sure I’m prepared and make sure I put the work in and support my team and support the franchise.’’
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