Comments (5)
No. 1-5

Glad that Mr. Richardson has been able to reconcile most, if not all, of the issues that have troubled him for these many years/decades. #phoenixrising


Kevin "James" Richardson, 95! If you're as old as I am, you know the tune!!

Dan Raley
Dan Raley


Know it well

Dan Raley
Dan Raley


Kevin Richardson adopted a new college football coach in Don James, and James inherited him.

A coaching change  and this was the first for the University of Washington football program in 18 seasons  is not always the most comfortable situation for everyone involved.

The player becomes someone else's recruit and loses that close connection. The new coach more often than not can't wait to use his own players. 

Still in this case, James talked up Richardson, a senior defensive tackle, in a big way when he met with the Sky Writers Tour of conference TV and newspaper reporters who came to size up his 1976 Huskies, his second team in Seattle.

"Kevin is the biggest, strongest and fastest lineman on our team," the coach told them about his most prolific weight lifter, who held the team records. "He's so strong he could probably pick up the end of the building."

However, these fun-loving good times didn't last more than a month. 

Three games into the season, the underachieving Huskies were 1-2 after beating Virginia but losing to Colorado and Indiana, and James was clearly irritated by the 20-13 setback to the Hoosiers, a heavy underdog. 

In the Sunday night team meeting after that game, the UW coach emphatically told his players, "What happened will never happen again. You better be ready to practice."

James proceeded to run the Huskies ragged that week. He also made some lineup changes. He replaced Richardson, a fifth-year senior, with Doug Martin, a true freshman.

Richardson came off the bench for five games before reclaiming the starting job for the final three games, but his psyche had been badly shaken.

This is the final installment about Kevin Richardson, a Husky defensive tackle in 1972-76 for Jim Owens- and James-coached teams, offering an inner glimpse at what can be a complicated existence of hopes, dreams and disappointment in college football.

The 1976 Huskies reunited in 2010. From left, Steve Holzknecht, Mike Nykreim, Russ Vincent, Kevin Richardson, Dan Lloyd and Gordon Bronson.
These Husky athletes from football and track reunited in 2010. From left, Steve Holzknecht, Mike Nykreim, Russ Vincent, Kevin Richardson, Dan Lloyd and Gordon Bronson. Kevin Richardson photo

The Sacramento, California, native went into an emotional tailspin over his temporary demotion and he blamed it on James. He grew to resent the coach. He became suicidal before deciding he wanted to live, but missed a chance at an NFL career. He faulted James for that, too.

Richardson didn't totally get over this football slide until he started writing a book about this part of his life, a full-scale memoir on his football days.  

He has a publishing deal and an agent. He's been writing for 10 years now and it's 90 percent finished. He's enlisted a Hollywood actor friend to write the foreword. 

The manuscript has been titled SIDELINE REDEMPTION Still Standing: After My Fall From Football Grace. 

The writing project has enabled Richardson to come to grips with his unresolved issues, with his estrangement with his Husky coach, with his deep-rooted despair.

After reuniting with teammates in 2010, Richardson sat down and wrote James an 11-page letter. This led to a two-hour phone conversation, with the former player explaining himself and the coach listening to a story he didn't know.

In October that year, Richardson and James met for breakfast in Kirkland, Washington, not far from the coach's residence. They talked for a long time. All was forgiven. Richardson began to write the book. 

James, who always looked out for his players after they were finished playing, apologized for inadvertently sending the player into an unhealthy state of mind. He volunteered to help Richardson sell his book. 

The coach died three years later and his former football player was grateful they were able to meet and talk things out. Richardson feels whole again.

"He stood up for me and, in so doing, it untethered my soul," he said of James, "and ultimately set me free from my dark past with him."

The final chapter shouldn't take long to finish now.

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I just barely remember the guy or here people of that time period: but always as usual stories like this take me back to the James days. Such a fun period in time. Sad for Kevin in areas. I love that era though.

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