Dear NFL GMs

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Dear coaches and GMs,

I know that draft night is a big night for you, and it’s definitely a big night for me and my family. I don’t take for granted what it’s going to mean to hear my name called on that stage. This isn’t just about football. It’s life changing.

So before everything is locked in, I just wanted to take this last opportunity to tell you a little more about my story. If you’re going to make a bet on me, then I want you to know where I come from, and why I play this game. 

I made a promise to myself that I was going to do everything in my power to get to the NFL.

Anthony Richardson

It all probably starts with my Uncle Tanka. I wouldn’t be here writing this letter right now if it weren’t for him. When I was little, living in Miami, he told my mama that all she had to do was make sure I did good in school — that I didn’t have to worry about anything when it came to football, because he’d take care of all that. He didn’t play about it either. He was a comedian-type of dude, always cracking jokes and making people laugh. But, man, he was serious when it came to football. That was his passion. I remember I’d always get sad as a kid when I threw an interception. So if I turned it over and was looking down on the next play, he’d be telling me, “Stop all that crying, Ant, stop being a baby!!” He just didn’t want me to lose my confidence. But, yeah, football was always just a big part of the relationship we had. I remember we used to be down in Miami Gardens, throwing the ball in the street in front of my grandma’s house (never on the grass, though, because Grandma didn’t play that). 

We moved to Gainesville when I was in sixth grade. I think I was there for about a year, maybe, when my mom told me that my uncle was in the hospital, and he had passed away. I cried that whole day because I didn’t wanna believe it. The person that had introduced me to the game I loved was gone. Like gone gone. In my head, it was like, Now I got no choice but to make it. I know he’s up there looking down on me, and even though he can’t be here to push me, he doesn’t have to. I’M pushing me. I’m going to do it for him. At that point, I made a promise to myself that I was going to do everything in my power to get to the NFL.

I know a lot of y’all want to know if I’m ready to step onto a professional team. I keep hearing that the NFL isn’t like college. It’s a different level. It’s more mental. Nothing’s going to be handed to you. I can tell you right now, if that’s what it takes then I’m ready. All due respect, that’s nothing new for me — it’s the same in life. If you want to eat, you gotta work for it. I know all about that.

It’s basically always been me, my younger brother, Corey, and my mom. And the way I grew up, we didn’t always have it, you know what I’m saying?? Sometimes we didn’t have food to eat. Didn’t have new clothes, had to wash the ones we did have in the sink. Didn’t always have the best apartment. But my mom always worked for everything. Didn’t question it, didn’t complain. She just did what she had to do. So I’ll say this: I might not have gone to as many camps as other guys at this position, but not everybody had a mom like mine. Not everybody had to learn them lessons the way I did, through watching her. And I’m glad that’s the life I got dealt, the one God gave me, because it’s made me who I am today. It put something different inside of me. It’s given me a different drive and a different vision. I didn’t want my mom to have to struggle anymore, and I definitely didn’t want my little brother to have to have the same life I did growing up.

Courtesy University of Florida

Football kind of raised me. I learned every life lesson through playing this game. Being a part of football teams gave me a chance to look up to people and find mentors, because my dad wasn’t always there. I learned so much from my high school coaches — honestly, even my middle school and little league coaches. They didn’t just teach me the game. They taught me the importance of school, of giving my best effort every time, of connecting with people.... That gave football a bigger purpose to me. It was bigger than a sport. It’s always been a part of who I am.

Working with Coach Mullen at Florida was definitely a blessing. A lot of people know him as a quarterback guru, and that’s definitely true. He instilled in me the importance of really knowing the game, as opposed to just being good at it on the field. Anybody can hand the ball off. But to be an NFL-ready QB you have to have a certain level of situational awareness. You have to know where you’re at on the field at all times, how much time you have. And that’s just one aspect of the position. You also have to know the opponent, different coverage schemes, different blitz packages, different line stunts. Basically, I’ve learned how much preparation there is that goes into having good instincts.

Kevin Camps

It really clicked for me in the middle of my freshman year. Watching Kyle Trask helped my game a lot. One of the best things I learned from watching him is, if you know your offense like the back of your hand, it’s easy to expose another defense. All you have to do is learn their tendencies and exploit them. Kyle knows almost every protection check, every route. And it clicked for me like, O.K., that’s why it’s so easy for him to pick apart a defense. Seeing how easy it was for him to communicate with Coach Mullen, and Kyle knowing almost as much as Coach, it was like, This is probably why that guy is so good. So I just tried to implement that in my game, and add a little flavor to it whenever I’m on the field.

One of the things I’m the most proud of about my college career is how much I was able to grow and learn about myself. The way I’m able to adapt is one of my greatest strengths. I know I have the ability to put enough effort and time into something to be great at it. And I feel like I turned what could’ve been a challenge into a strength at Florida. I had a new quarterback coach every year, and I had to learn a new offense in six months. Even though I didn’t always get the result I wanted, I was always looking for adjustments and solutions — I never gave up. I flowed with it and I just adapted. Coach Mullen, Coach O’Hara, Coach Napier all brought something different to the table — different styles of teaching, different philosophies, different terminology — that all contributed to expanding my understanding of the position and rounding out my game.

And, yeah, I may not pay attention to all the noise, but I do hear the critics. I know the things people are picking apart. People talk about whether I can be accurate. They say I don’t have touch. They say I can’t throw short. They say a lot of things. All I gotta say is: Watch how hard I work. In my mind, I can do anything with the football in my hand — but I know that no one will ever work harder than me to improve. Whether that’s my footwork, accuracy, mechanics, learning defenses, you name it. You can always grow, and that’s what I’m focused on. I’m going to come in and be tireless. I’m going to put it all on the line. My family sacrificed too much for me to not give everything to this game. 

Jonathan Bachman/Getty

My family, man…. I owe them everything. It’s funny, when I was younger, my mom used to interview me on long car rides, like I was at a press conference or something. I’d be like, “Why are we doing this?” And she’d say, “You’re gonna need it one day.” And now I look at where I am, and I’m just grateful that she believed that I could be somebody. And my friends, the ones I’ve been rockin’ with since fourth and fifth grade — the people who never switched up on me and kept it real with me from the start — I owe them, too. My mentors and my support team, they all know what I’ve been through, they know what my life was like and what this next step means.

Where I’m from, I don’t know any kid who plays ball and doesn’t see himself going all the way to the league. And I always had the same dream. Me and my uncle connected over this game from the day he gave me my first Nerf Ball. So I just want to make the most of this opportunity, and inspire the kids who are going through what I went through and might have a story like mine. I want to show them that they can go anywhere they want to go in life. This isn’t just about doing something for me. It’s bigger than that.

So, to all the coaches and GMs who are reading this: See you at the draft. If you call the name Anthony Richardson, I promise that you won’t regret it.