BOSTON (CBS) — If you thought Dion Lewis felt disrespected by the Patriots, he’s got nothing on another former New England running back.
Lewis’ anger has only been festering for a few short months. But in the case of Stevan Ridley, who spent four seasons in the New England backfield, he’s been eager to stick it to his former team for over three years now.
Ridley may get his chance Sunday afternoon when the Patriots pay a visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I’m very open and I have to be real: I want this game more than any other game, man,” Ridley told The Boston Herald’s Kevin Duffy. “That’s just the bottom line to it. And it’ll be that way from this year until I go in the grave. I’m just that kind of person.”
Ridley rushed for over 2,800 yards in his four seasons with the Patriots, including a 1,263-yard season in 2012. But he tore his ACL during the 2014 campaign, a contract year for Ridley, and the Patriots never offered him a new contract when the season came to an end.
That has always bothered him, and he’s been eager to prove his old team wrong ever since.
“I was trashed after an injury,” Ridley told the Herald. “I’m just going to put it that way. I’m not going to say specifically, but to be a starter for (the Patriots) for four years, to tear my ACL and never get a call back, that’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Ridley has struggled to find his footing in the NFL in his post-New England days, donning seven different jerseys while rushing for just 265 yards. The Patriots themselves have welcomed in a stable of running backs to carry the rock for them, with LeGarrette Blount and Lewis taking over as their primary backs in the years following Ridley’s departure. After Lewis left for Tennessee over the offseason, the Patriots have relied on the oft-injured Rex Burkhead, rookie Sony Michel and pass-catching extraordinaire James White in 2018.
“And now they’re still looking for a running back to try to come in and play — how many running backs have been through there to try to give them some consistency as a quote-unquote first or second down back?” Ridley pondered about the Patriots. “They’re still looking for it right now. Yeah, it’s very personal. It is.”
Ridley has had just one chance to go against his old team, which came in 2015 as a member of the New York Jets. He picked up just 36 yards on seven carries in that game, and has been eager for another shot since. He’s since made stops in Detroit, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Denver and Minnesota before catching on with the Steelers over the summer.
With Pittsburgh starting running back James Connor nursing an ankle injury, Ridley may finally get another his shot at his old team on Sunday.
“I’ve had that game circled on my schedule every year since I left there to try to get a shot at these guys and get some kind of redemption,” he said. “It’s more than exciting, it means more than I can explain to you. I’m just fired up that I get another Sunday on the field, but against a team that turned their back on me at the end of the day. I’m going to go out there and give it my all.”
Ridley said it’s not all bitterness when he looks back on his time in New England. He would never discredit what Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have accomplished between the lines, and overall, he has great memories of winning a lot of football games in a Patriots uniform.
But those memories will be buried in the back of his mind come Sunday afternoon, and all Ridley will be focused on is getting some revenge against the team that cast him away three years ago.
Ridley has rushed for 60 yards on 23 carries with one touchdown (which came in last week’s win over the Raiders) in eight games for the Steelers this season.