This is a crazy article at Deadspin in their "The Dark Side of the Locker Room" series, this one by Joel Reese about Golden Richards and what has got to be one of the worst sports writer stories ever. Not worst stories, but worst experiences to write a story about.
Richards was a second-round draft and played receiver for the Cowboys from 1973-78.
I first started watching the Cowboys and became a fan in the '75-76 season when I was 7, and then SB XII in '78 was the first SB I really remember watching.
As a fan of Golden Richards I didn't go anywhere to the extent Reese did with collecting cards and such (he actually wrote his thesis on this story), but he was my favorite player, partly I'm sure because I identified with him because I had long blonde hair, and I wanted to be a receiver.
Then in that game, as Reese says, "he caught the first running-back-option pass completed for a touchdown in Super Bowl history, thrown by fullback Robert Newhouse. The score sealed the Cowboys win over the Denver Broncos, 27-10. It was my favorite sports moment."
It was my favorite sports moment, too.
Golden Richards was not a really outstanding receiver numbers wise, but he did provide some valuable depth during those years with a great receiving corps (along with Drew Pearson, Tony Hill and Butch Johnson), and had that one golden moment with a classic superbowl-winning trick play endzone catch.
Reese also quotes him as saying this, which is cool: “Everyone assumes my most memorable moment was the Super Bowl, but it wasn’t. It was every time it was 3rd and six and I caught an eight-yard out to keep the drive going. The camaraderie in the huddle.”
But after an initially normal and memorable interview for Reese the first day, the second day turned very weird and sad. Reese tells the story of getting pain pills for Richards and then being present while he ODs and Reese calls 911. Richards is hauled off in an ambulance to have his stomach pumped. I had heard of Richards problems with drugs, but never read this story.
Sad story. Just goes to remind what a bitch addiction is. And how after their moment in the NFL sun they face the same challenges the rest of us do in life.
I don't know what Golden Richards is up to now and what the rest of his story is so far, but he had a big influence in my love of football, the Cowboys and receiving, and I wish him the best.