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Thursday, February 2, 2012
T-Rich says 'we had issues in 2010,' but ...

By Rich Cimini

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bumped into a familiar face at the NFLPA meeting Thursday at the Super Bowl media center -- Tony Richardson.

Did the Jets miss him or what?

The classy Richardson, one of the team leaders in 2009 and 2010, said he was "surprised" by the locker-room unrest that bubbled to the surface at the end of the season.

"We had issues when I was there (in 2010), but we kept them in-house," he told ESPNNewYork.com. "Unfortunately, that stuff got leaked this season. It can't help but have an effect on a team."

Richardson said the team's chemistry was hurt because the front office "had to make some tough decisions and took away some key pieces." He made an interesting point, noting that each position group lost at least one leader -- the running backs (Richardson), the offensive line (Damien Woody) and the receivers (Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith).

Richardson said LaDainian Tomlinson filled the void at running back and Brandon Moore on the line, but he said no one stepped up at wide receiver.

"J-Co knew the playbook as well as (Brian Schottenheimer)," he said. "That's why the remaining guys weren't always on the same page."

Richardson, who still keeps in touch with some players, said he wasn't aware of the Mark Sanchez-Santonio Holmes rift.

"That was disappointing," he said. "The quarterback is the leader on our offense and, if I were a receiver, that would be the last person I want to beef with ... You look at Tom Brady and those tight ends and Wes Welker. The reason they light up is because they have such great chemistry."

Richardson said Sanchez is "getting beat up pretty bad" by the criticism, but he added: "I have a strong belief that he'll be back."

Richardson, 40, said he hasn't file retirement papers, but his football career is over. He was out of the league in 2011, concentrating his efforts on the NFLPA. He's a member of the executive board.