SAN DIEGO — He says his job is to "lay down the law" when he plays football and that's why they call him, "The Sheriff."
He says if somebody breaks the law he's going to have to crack down, "and sometimes," he says, "the penalties can be real stiff."
Despite first impressions, he says he's not related to gabby Burt Grossman, but by nightfall Texas safety Stanley Richard might be challenging Grossman as the most colorful Charger.
There are no sure things on draft day with a trade-happy Bobby Beathard in command--and he's not saying what he's going to do--but Richard, 6-feet-1 and 199 pounds, appears to be the leading candidate to become the Chargers' No. 1 pick in today's NFL draft.
The Chargers have shown an interest in Tennessee offensive tackle Antone Davis but don't believe he will be on the board when it comes to the ninth selection. They have been enamored with Nebraska cornerback Bruce Pickens' man-to-man coverage skills but have reservations about him and are not sure he will get past Atlanta, who has the third pick in the first round.
UCLA safety Eric Turner has drawn high marks, but Richard's ability to play both cornerback and safety not only places him in the Chargers' starting lineup at free safety, but gives defensive coordinator Ron Lynn an extra cornerback against foes that employ four wide receivers.
There is a feeling within the Chargers' organization, however, that Beathard might be able to swing a deal with a team, such as Dallas (14th pick), and swap places in the first round, gain an additional pick and still choose Richard.
"No one heard of Stanley Richard until this year," said Stanley Richard. "But things started happening for me this year and everybody was talking about how they were going to shoot down the sheriff.
"They didn't get it done. Now I hope to ride into San Diego as the new sheriff in town."
They had a "Stanley Richard Week" in mid-February for Richard in his hometown of Hawkins, Texas. And the sheriff of Wood County replaced Richard's toy badge--yes, he carries a badge--with a genuine Wood County sheriff's badge.
"They're going to celebrate Stanley Richard week every year," Richard said. "It's Feb. 17th to the 24th, and I'll go back and make some speeches."
Richard, an Associated Press first-team All-American, was the Southwest Conference defensive player of the year. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash in front of the NFL scouts after piling up 111 tackles with four interceptions in his final year at Texas.
While an ESPN national television audience will learn where Richard is headed today, Richard will remain calm and unconcerned in his backyard.
He really doesn't have much choice: Cable television hasn't come to the folks who live over yonder by Lake Hawkins.
"I'll be sitting under the shade tree, drinking lemonade and eating popcorn," he said. "I've done everything I can to put myself in the position I am, so why worry about it. I'm sure they'll call and tell me where I'm headed."
If he's San Diego-bound, he promises the Chargers they will not be confronted with another Junior Seau-Rod Bernstine-Grossman-Leslie O'Neal training camp holdout.
"I'm against holding out," Richard said.
Smelling salts, please, for owner Alex Spanos.
Richard already broke from tradition, and after shunning overtures from a number of football agents, hired Austin-based labor lawyer, Chris Knepp, who has never negotiated a contract for a football player.
"Todd Lyght is an exceptional cornerback and Eric Turner is an exceptional safety," Richard said, "but in me you get one person who can be both an exceptional cornerback and safety. I'm an asset because of my versatility."
Lyght is expected to be the second player selected in the draft; Turner's name has been mentioned in connection with Tampa Bay and the seventh pick and Green Bay with the eighth choice.
Charger opinions are divided on Pickens, who is rated just behind Lyght at corner. While he dazzled the NFL observors with 4.43 speed, he's been compared unfavorably to former Nebraska teammate Jeff Mills, a third-round bust of the Chargers last season who is now with Denver.
While the Chargers have targeted Richard for early attention, they are also on the prowl for an additional first-round pick. Beathard said he's willing to deal the team's No. 1 choice in the 1992 draft along with a fourth-round pick this year or next for a late first-round pick in this draft. So far, he has no takers.
He rejected Dallas' offer Saturday of the 14th pick in Round 1 for the Chargers' two seconds and a fourth-round pick but expects to chat with the Cowboys' brass again.
"We want to get something near the end of the first round," Beathard said. "I'd give up one of our twos, but not both."
Beathard has his eye on an offensive tackle, defensive lineman and wide receiver in the second round, but he's concerned that they may be swiped before the Chargers have the opportunity to make selections Nos. 36 and 39.