Off the Cuff with Claiborne: Howard Richards
In his football career, Howard Richards was an All-American offensive lineman at the University of Missouri and went on to be a first-round draft choice. He blocked for Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett and played for the legendary coach Tom Landry. When it came time to leave the field, he tackled quite a different challenge: working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Now, Howard finds himself quite busy with less covert activities like serving as a color analyst for the Missouri Tiger Football Radio Network.
What was a big “oh brother’ moment from your time in the NFL?
During the NFC championship game my rookie year, we were playing against the 49ers. Everything was going pretty well at half time when we went back to the locker room. We were waiting for Coach Landry to do his thing, and I realized there was a black sheet draped over something that wasn’t there before we went out for the opening kickoff. There was a place where the drape had fallen away, and I saw it was covering boxes of Champagne that had been set out in anticipation that we won. I knew my seeing it was a bad omen, and we ended up losing the game by one point.
Which job kept you up at night more, the NFL or CIA?
You do not want to get beat by a defensive linebacker that ends up getting your quarterback sacked. Talk about pressure. Nothing compares to playing in front of 80,000 people, and when you screw up, you have to read about it in the paper, deal with your neighbors and friends, and then sit through the coaches meeting and get yelled at. Forget everything else; that’s the most stressful thing I’ve ever experienced. I’d rather have bullets flying at me than screw up on a football field.
Between traveling for the NFL, CIA, and Mizzou football, is it safe to say you have seen a lot of the world?
Traveling for the CIA was incredible. I’ve been to between 45 and 55 countries on five continents. It’s amazing to get to meet and interact with people from different cultures, see how the rest of the world lives and, most importantly, learn to appreciate what it’s like living in the United States.
Top three places you were surprised about when you visited and the three places you would prefer never to visit again?
I was surprised about Cape Town, South Africa, because of the sheer beauty. I had no expectations about it. Traveling to Paris was everything I had hoped it would be. The third would be Norway; the beauty, the mountains, the fjords, the food—it’s all incredible. I do not care to go back to Gaza. There were some places in the Philippines where we saw horrible things, people really living with no hope. And lastly, old town New Delhi.
You’re 6’6.” Where do you get your clothes?
I do pretty much all of my shopping online. For casual stuff, I wear a lot of athletic apparel like Lululemon, Nike and Under Armour. All my dress wear and suits are tailor-made.
Of these, what do you own: silk pajamas, a pipe, an ascot, cowboy boots and hat?
Or is there something else people would be surprised to learn you have? I own none of those. It’s not fashion-released, so I’m not sure it counts, but people would probably be surprised that I have a Segway.