For 30 years, Howard Richards had a long nickname. "The Last Offensive Lineman Drafted in the First Round by the Dallas Cowboys."
He needs a new one now.
The Cowboys took him off the hook Thursday night when they selected Tyron Smith with the ninth pick of the NFL draft, burning a first-rounder on a lineman for the first time since they selected Richards in 1981.
"I didn't mind it," Richards said of the distinction. "It kept my name out there."
Richards did not have the career he, or anyone, expected. But he is at peace with the disappointment of his professional fate.
"I wanted to play 10 years," he said. "Injuries prevented me from doing so. That put a damper on things."
He accepted being called a disappointing pick.
"That's what you live with," he said. "But the players know what I did. To me, that's all that matters. I had a good career."
-- Carlos Mendez