Ted Richards is one of seven nominees for the AFL Players’ Association Madden Medal, an award that recognises more than on-field performances, with off-field achievements, personal development and community spirit also taken into account.
Ted Richards didn’t feel like he could be comfortable at the elite level.
While entering each of his 16 years in the AFL, he thought the next 12 months could be his last.
It culminated in spending six weeks in the reserves in 2010 and, seeing the writing on the wall, Richards arranged to study full time in 2011.
“For someone who played AFL for 16 years, I didn’t have a consistent level of output and I played far better football towards the end of my career than the middle point or the start,” Richards told Aflplayers.com.au.
“I finished my Bachelor of Commerce in 2010 and had talked to Stockholm School of Economics about the possibility of me studying there full time in 2011 and there was a chance of even getting a scholarship there and having that plan if football didn’t work out.
“As fate would have it, Craig Bolton got injured in 2010 and I got back into the team and I started playing career-best football from then on.”
In a true sliding doors moment, had injuries not restricted Bolton and cult hero Lewis Roberts-Thompson in 2010, Richards would’ve finished his career on 123 games and without his 2012 All-Australian and premiership medallion.
But the beauty of living from one short contract to the next was it forced Richards to prepare for his post-footy career from the moment he first walked through the club’s doors to the day he left.
“I was studying when I was at Essendon. I played for 16 years and never had a year off; I studied for 16 years straight.
“I enjoyed all of my study but I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed it the whole way through. I believe that it’s enjoyable for the first few weeks of the semester but it is hard work and very challenging and there are times when I didn’t want to go.
“But I saw real value in making the most of my time. As footballers we’re busy but there’s a bit of down time and I chose to not be a golfer and spend what free time I had investing in myself to get as best qualified as possible.
“It provided great peace of mind knowing that if my football journey didn’t pan out how I wanted it I had things in place to be ready to go for the next challenge in life.”
Apart from his Bachelor of Commerce, Masters of Applied Finanace and work placements, the 34-year-old spent time on the AFLPA board and lent his name to various community programs throughout his AFL tenure.
“It’s a real privilege we have as footballers and while I can understand players that say they didn’t sign up to be a role model but I don’t agree with that.
“I think we’ve got an opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives other than just playing a game for them on the weekend and we’ve seen the way players have gone above and beyond what we can do as role models — it’s also a rewarding process.”
The winner of the Madden Medal will be announced at the AFL Players’ Association’s Season Launch on Tuesday, 7th March.
Ted Richards’ achievements on and off the field:
- 261 AFL Games
- All-Australian 2012
- Premiership Player 2012
- 2nd Best and Fairest 2012
- AFL Rising Star Nominee 2003
- Bachelor of Commerce (UNSW)
- Masters of Applied Finance (Kaplan Uni)
- Work Placement – Citibank
- Work Placement – Airlie Funds Management
- AFLPA Board Member
- Team Swans Community Program
- Active ‘Player Conditions’ Supporter – AFLPA
- YGAP 5cent Campaign Ambassador
- Sydney Swans Leadership Group
- Sydney Swans Life Member
- Best Clubman – 2010