Indianapolis Colts: 15 greatest receivers in franchise history
- NFL Champion (1968)
- 2x Pro Bowl (1967-68)
- First-Team All-Pro (1967)
- Second-Team All-Pro (1968)
Willie Richardson played flanker and wide receiver for the Colts primarily in the 1960s. After being a seventh-round pick out of Jackson State in the 1963 NFL Draft, Richardson would suit up for the Colts over the next seven years and eight of the next nine.
During his first four years in the NFL, Richardson was sparingly used as a pass catcher. While he had 17 catches for 204 yards as a rookie in 1963, he would not surpass that total until year four in 1966 with 246 receiving yards on 14 grabs for two touchdowns.
Frankly, Richardson’s first four years in the league were nothing to write home about. However, years five and six were impressive enough to merit Richardson’s inclusion on this all-time list. This is because he would be a two-time Pro Bowler, a two-time All-Pro player and an NFL champion with the Colts in 1968.
Richardson’s breakout season came in 1967, as he set career highs in games played (14), receptions (63), receiving yards (860) and receiving touchdowns (eight). He made his first career trip to the Pro Bowl, as well as garnering his only First-Team All-Pro bond of his career.
Richardson backed up his excellent 1967 season with another great one in 1968. That year, he had 37 catches for 698 yards and eight touchdown grabs. Richardson made his second straight trip to the Pro Bowl, earning Second-Team All-Pro honors in the process.
All the while, the Colts won the 1968 NFL Championship by shutting out the Cleveland Browns 34-0 en route to what is now known as Super Bowl III. Baltimore went 13-1 that regular season, but fell to Joe Namath’s AFL Champion New York Jets in an upset.
Richardson had another strong season with the Colts in 1969 with 43 catches for 646 yards and three touchdowns. He would leave the Colts for the Miami Dolphins in 1970, only to return to Baltimore for one last season with the Colts in 1970.
Overall, Richardson amassed 188 career receptions for 2,883 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns in 99 games in Colts uniform. His receiving numbers have been lost to time, but his contributions to the Colts offense in the late 1960s is good enough to have him coming in at No. 14 on this all-time list.