EAGAN, Minn. (KMSP) - Sheldon Richardson was drafted by the New York Jets back in 2013, so a visit to his former team this weekend with the Vikings might be personal for the veteran.
He won Defensive Rookie of the Year, made the Pro Bowl and everything was trending towards a long happy marriage with the Jets but after some off-the-field incidents and the fact he was due for a new contract, the team decided to get rid of him. Now, for the first time since being traded Richardson is on his way back to New York.
The Vikings are scheduled to make a trip to the Big Apple this weekend and while Richardson is downplaying it a bit, this business trip feels a little personal.
"Another game, not putting myself above the team. Whatever personal vendetta I have is between me," he said Wednesday.
Richardson spent his first four seasons in the league with the Jets before he was unceremoniously traded to Seattle in 2017.
The Vikings Defensive Tackle says it's just part of the business and he's just excited to face off against some familiar faces.
"Just preparing for this week like I do every week. It’s fun seeing my guys out there being winners, seeing those guys out there. Game planning them is actually fun though, going to feel like training camp for me,” Richardson added.
While he may have left New York with some hard feelings, he's drawn positive reviews from the coaching staff here in Minnesota.
"I've been really impressed with Sheldon [Richardson] and not just his play but the way he's come in here trying to learn the techniques we're trying to teach him, his professionalism,” said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
Richardson has done his part since becoming a Vikings tallying 20 tackles and a sack but Mike Zimmer says the effort in which Richardson plays with is what makes him a valuable part of the Vikings defense.
"Everybody sees the sacks and the hits on the quarterback but they don't see sometimes when you split the double team and you make a tackle or you run twenty yards down the field to make a tackle. Those things are impressive to me,” Zimmer added.
The six-year veteran admits to his own shortcomings which led to him being traded from New York but he says he's grown from his time there and if the Vikings come away with a win, it wouldn't be personal. Like he says, it's just business.
"Time heals all wounds,” Richardson said. “Just got to learn how to get over it, over things and keep moving forward. Life goes on."
So perhaps a little extra motivation for Richardson Sunday, but perhaps what's even more motivating is the possibility of moving into first place in the NFC North depending on how the rest of the games shape out on Sunday.