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Richardson, who played 14 seasons overseas and says he got clean in the late '80's, holds no ill will toward Stern. "He didn't ban me. I banned myself," says Richardson. "He has helped me get job opportunities."
Those opportunities included a community-relations job with the Denver Nuggets and appearances at Knicks summer camps. Would Richardson be interested in boarding another sinking New York ship? "To get [back] to the big ranks is one of my dreams. It would be full circle."
With a new lease on life, the former Charger has headed to the hills for some valuable family time
PARK CITY would be perfect. In the winter Rolf Benirschke and his wife, Mary, could teach their four children how to ski as part of their home-school curriculum. And there would be no demands on Dad to make appearances that would take him away from his family. So last month the former Chargers kicker moved his family from the San Diego area, his home since 1970, to Utah for a year, a sabbatical he calls a "pause in life."
No one can blame Benirschke, 51, for calling a timeout. But it's not so much for him; he's well past his battle with ulcerative colitis, which almost killed him in 1979, his third year with the Chargers. (He kicked for seven more seasons.) And after years of fighting hepatitis C, which he contracted through a blood transfusion, he recently tested free of the virus.
This pause is more for his children, three of whom are trying to overcome physical or psychological disabilities. Kari, 13, has a mild case of cerebral palsy; she walks with a limp but has a singing voice that reverberates. Erik, 14, and Timmy, 12--brothers from Russia who were adopted in 1998--suffer from reactive attachment disorder, characterized by an inability to show affection for a caretaker or to interact with peers. "What started out as a selfish desire to add to our family," Benirschke says of the decision to adopt, "has turned into a recognition of an obligation to save these kids' lives."
To do that Rolf and Mary decided to take their children, including healthy eight-year-old Ryan, to Park City for a more structured life. Rolf will continue to work as a spokesman and program director for ConvaTec, a company that supplies ostomy products, but he'll be focusing on the family. "We believe that the window where we can really impact these kids is now," Benirschke says. "We will build memories, connections and family time and help these kids wrestle with these demons."