The quarterback of a football team is usually the unquestioned leader of that team, and teammates and fans alike look up to him. This, naturally, leads to an inherent desire from fans to see evidence of that QB being the leader- particularly in the long offseason. Although some journalists in Gainesville unfortunately have made habits of implying the opposite with their work, Anthony Richardson- Florida’s presumed starting quarterback in 2022- checks that box and then some.
Leah Thompson is a student at Florida’s MSRE program who just finished the spring semester, and was moving her things out of her dorm room this past weekend. As anyone who’s ever gone away to college knows, this can be quite a laborious task that requires the assistance of multiple people. And normally, Thompson’s boyfriend- Jerry Brown Jr., a huge Gator fan who jumps at any chance he gets to set foot in Gainesville- would have stepped in and done so without a moment’s hesitation.
But unfortunately, Brown had recently suffered from a seizure and was placed under driving restrictions, meaning he obviously could not assist with the job. So Brown, an active Twitter user who goes by the username @JBreezyII and has connected with a number of current and former players through the bird app, reached out to Richardson, a Gainesville native, through DMs to ask if he would help.
Now, Brown never expected Richardson to answer, let alone come through and help with the chore. He expressed that to me, and he expressed it in his message to Richardson, calling it a “crazy ask.” After all, the two had messaged a few times before about the team, and Richardson was kind and genuine to him, but the two don’t really know each other too well. So he sent that message expecting to have to continue the search for help within his family.
To Brown’s surprise, Richardson immediately responded to his message asking which dorm Thompson was in. Before Brown or Thompson knew what was happening, Florida’s penned-in starting quarterback was at Thompson’s dorm room, helping lift heavy items and load up her car.
There were no cameras. Anthony Richardson asked for zero in return. Not a penny, not a tweet of appreciation, nothing. And that’s why this story is being written, because that’s how Anthony Richardson was raised. He wanted to help Leah Thompson move her things out not because he wanted something out of it, but because he wanted to help Leah Thompson move her things out.
That’s just who he is. Even if some other people with online platforms aren’t willing to publish that.
Last month, Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times dug up the fact that Richardson was pulled over and handed a speeding ticket. Nobody can rightly claim that Richardson was not in the wrong here, as speeding is, legally speaking, wrong. And Richardson will be the first to tell you that he made a mistake.
The real issue that many had with Baker’s article was that the incident occurred a week and a half before Baker released it… the day after Richardson put together a solid showing in the Gators’ spring game. Which really leaves two likely realities to choose from: either Baker routinely culls the internet for all the latest gossip on players, found the speeding ticket citation and just decided to hold onto it until right after the spring game, OR Richardson’s nice performance in the spring game motivated him to start combing through the world wide web for that gossip, found the speeding ticket from a week and a half earlier, and wrote it up immediately. Needless to say, neither possibility makes Baker’s motivations look great.
Worse yet, I pressed Baker this morning to gauge his interest in writing about this kind deed of Richardson’s when I first came across it, and to be frank, Baker expressed zero. Which is unfortunate, because the efforts he takes to highlight and share the news of a minor mistake that does not tell Gator fans what their starting quarterback is truly made of could, believe it or not, also be used to tell the world more about what he is truly made of.
And to be fair to Matt Baker, I understand that his job is not to sprinkle rainbows and sunshine all over the program with his coverage. If someone associated with Florida’s football program does something he’s not supposed to do, it’s journalistically fair game to write about it. If it’s factual… well, that’s what journalism is for. To tell the world what’s going on, and hold people accountable when applicable. I get that.
But what’s not going to fly is playing that role of watchdog and generating clicks off of a speeding ticket a week and a half after the fact, and then not being equally as eager to share the positive things that the player does. You know. Share both the positives and the negatives, both of which are relevant. I do that. Nick De La Torre does that. Thomas Goldkamp does that. Etc. That’s what’s fair to the student-athletes we talk about, and that’s what’s fair to Gator fans everywhere: to present the whole picture. (And this isn’t even the first time I’ve been down this road with Baker.)
I don’t write for the Tampa Bay Times. I don’t know what kind of reach they have as a publication in May of 2022. But if they won’t take the time and effort to show the world who Anthony Richardson truly is as a man, I will.
Because, after all, Baker already set the precedent. What Florida’s quarterback does in his spare time when the cameras aren’t rolling is newsworthy.