Growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah; John Golden Richards dreamed of playing professional football for his favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys. Growing up in a strict Mormon family, young Golden was a multi-sport standout ate Granite High School where he lettered in football, basketball, baseball, tennis,and track. As a result he had scholarship opportunities from several major schools and in multiple sports. Ultimately Richards selected the University of Utah, and a football scholarship. This choice went over about as well as a lead balloon in the tight knit Mormon community. Golden was soon called into his bishop's office, and given a choice: he could either serve his church by playing football for Brigham Young University or he could be sent on a two year mission for the church. Either way, he would not be playing football for the Utes. Golden chose the football field and soon reported to Provo to begin his college career.
While at Provo, Richards led the nation in punt returns, and set seven NCAA receiving records before transferring to the University of Hawaii to play his senior year. After completing his collegiate career with the Warriors, Golden's childhood dream came true when he was selected in the second round of the 1973 NFL Draft. His beloved Dallas Cowboys used the 46th overall pick to select the young man, who they projected to be the heir to "Bullet" Bob Hayes. Although Golden never quite reached the levels that the Cowboys had expected, he did develop into a big play for the guy. Among the 16 touchdown receptions that Golden scored while a Dallas Cowboy, he had scoring strikes of 50 yards or more. This includes at least one scoring play of that distance during each year of his Cowboy career, with the exception of 1978. That year he only played one game before being traded to Chicago. Although Richards did not have the success as a Bear that he had experienced in Dallas, the football gods give grace him with one last shining moment before his career came to a close. Golden Richards added one final touchdown on a 52 yard touchdown pass. Fittingly he scored his last touchdown in Texas Stadium against the Cowboys.
For Golden, life off the field seemed to be every bit as glamorous. During his early career he dated Olivia Newton-John and was also linked to supermodel Jerry Hall at one time. Unfortunately, coming from the strict Mormon upbringing, Richards was not equipped to deal with the celebrity limelight he experienced as a Dallas Cowboy. Soon after catching a Super Bowl touchdown pass from fullback Robert Newhouse in 1978, his life began to spiral out of control. Golden became addicted to pain killers that he was given to deal with on the field injuries. He became an alcoholic and moved into hard drugs. This behavior soon drove Golden out of football, and eventually resulted in a criminal conviction for forging his father's signature on checks to fund his habits. According to Richards "It was the darkest dark you could ever imagine" and "getting a fix was the last thing he thought about at night and the first thing he thought about in the morning".
For Golden Richards, life has come full circle. He has managed to keep the demons that once haunted him at bay for several years by finding solace in his faith and close friends. Living now in in a basement apartment he is miles away from the glamor of America's Team. Now the last thing he thinks about at night, and the first in the morning, are two young boys who are now the pride of their father's life. According to Golden, "I'm now a happy man."