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Ricky Williams

Williams with the Dolphins in 2009
No. 34     Miami Dolphins
Running back
Personal information
Date of birth: May 21, 1977 (1977-05-21) (age 32)
Place of birth: San Diego, California
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) Weight: 230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
College: Texas
NFL Draft: 1999 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Debuted in 1999 for the New Orleans Saints
Career history
 As player:
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2009
Rushing yards     8,892
Average     4.1
Rushing Touchdowns     62
Receptions     310
Receiving yards     2,382
Receiving Touchdowns     7
Stats at NFL.com

Errick Lynne "Ricky" Williams, Jr. (born May 21, 1977 in San Diego, California) is an American football running back for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints fifth overall in the 1999 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Texas, where he was a two-time All-American (1997 and 1998) and won the 1998 Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football.

Contents

Early life

Williams was born, along with his twin sister Cassandra, in San Diego, California. He was born to relatively young parents, who ultimately separated when he was six years old. His mother was awarded custody of Williams and his siblings, Cassandra (Cassie) and Rebecca (Nisey). In San Diego's Patrick Henry High School, Williams primarily played baseball and football while running track and wrestling. On the football field, Williams gained 2,099 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. He was named "Offensive Player of the Year" by the San Diego Union-Tribune.[1]

High school career

Williams was selected out of Patrick Henry High School in the 8th round of the 1995 baseball amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, and played for four years at the Class A level with the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League and the Piedmont Boll Weevils of the South Atlantic League. He was then taken in the 1998 Rule 5 draft by the Montreal Expos, who sold his rights to the Texas Rangers.

College career

He played college football for the Texas Longhorns. Williams holds or shares 20 NCAA records, and became the NCAA Division I-A career rushing leader in 1998 with 6,279 yards (broken one year later by University of Wisconsin's Ron Dayne). Williams had a sensational senior season, highlighted by rushing for nine touchdowns and 385 yards in the season's first two games; rushing for 318 yards and six touchdowns against Rice; rushing for 350 yards and five touchdowns against Iowa State; and rushing for 150 yards against Nebraska's legendary Black Shirt defense. He helped beat long time rival Oklahoma rushing for 166 rushing yards and two scores.

Williams broke the career rushing record during the annual rivalry game held the day after Thanksgiving (this particular year fell on November 27, 1998) between Texas and Texas A&M. Needing only 63 yards to break Tony Dorsett's 22-year old NCAA Division 1-A all-time rushing record (6,082), Ricky Williams approached the line of scrimmage with 1:45 seconds left in the first quarter having already rushed for 54 yards. At first and ten on the Texas forty yard line, quarterback Major Applewhite handed off to Williams who broke two tackles, sprinted into open field and received a down field block from receiver Wane McGarity for a 60-yard touchdown run and the record. Williams' record-breaking run gave Texas a 10-0 lead in its eventual 26-24 upset of sixth-ranked Texas A&M. He finished the game racking up 295 yards. He broke the NCAA Division I-A career rushing touchdowns and career scoring records in 1998 with 73 and 452 respectively (topped one year later by Miami University's Travis Prentice), and rushed for 200 or more yards in twelve different games (an NCAA record he shares with Dayne and USC's Marcus Allen). Williams won the 64th Heisman Trophy, becoming the second Texas Longhorn to win this honor, joining Earl Campbell. Williams was sometimes known as the "Texas Tornado."[2]

Professional career

New Orleans Saints

Williams was selected as the fifth pick of the 1999 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Mike Ditka traded all of the Saints' 1999 draft picks to get Williams, as well as a 1st and 3rd pick the following year. This was the first time one player was the only draft pick of an NFL team. Williams and Ditka posed for the cover of ESPN The Magazine as a bride and a groom with the heading "For Better or for Worse." Master P's (a.k.a. Percy Miller's) organization "No Limit Sports" negotiated his contract, which was largely incentive-laden; he received an $8M-plus signing bonus with salary incentives potentially worth from $11 million to $68 million should he hit all of his incentives, with most of them requiring higher than top-level production to attain.[3] The contract was criticized by legions of people, both sports agents and writers, who realized that Williams' position entitled him to much more in guaranteed money.[4] Williams later fired "No Limit Sports" and made Leigh Steinberg his agent. Ditka was later fired for the team's poor performance. When Ricky Williams played with the Saints, he was renowned for wearing his full name "Ricky Williams" on his jersey. This was actually because there were more than one "Williams" on the Saints roster and more than one with the first initial "R", therefore "R. Williams" would not suffice.

First stint with Dolphins

Williams during his first stint with the Dolphins.

Williams was traded to the Miami Dolphins on March 8, 2002 for two first-round picks. In 2002, his first season with the Dolphins, he was the NFL's leading rusher with 1,853 yards, a First-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.

Williams was noted for his dreadlocks hair style, but he shaved them off during a trip to Australia. His shyness made Williams appear somewhat of an odd ball. "Ricky's just a different guy," former Saints receiver Joe Horn explained. "People he wanted to deal with, he did. And people he wanted to have nothing to do with, he didn't. No one could understand that. I don't think guys in the locker room could grasp that he wanted to be to himself - you know, quiet. If you didn't understand him and didn't know what he was about, it always kept people in suspense." Besides keeping to himself, Williams was known for conducting post-game interviews with his helmet on (complete with tinted visor) and avoiding eye contact. Williams was later diagnosed with clinical depression and social anxiety disorder.

Early retirement from football

It was announced on May 14, 2004 that he tested positive for marijuana in December 2003 and faced a $650,000 fine and a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. He previously tested positive for marijuana shortly after he joined the Dolphins, along with former punter Andrew Tomasjewski. Shortly before training camp was to begin in July 2004, Williams publicly disclosed his intent to retire from professional football.

Rumored to have failed a third drug test before announcing his retirement, Williams made his retirement official on August 2, 2004. Williams was ineligible to play for the 2004 season, and studied Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of holistic medicine, at the California College of Ayurveda that autumn in Grass Valley, California. The Dolphins finished the year with a 4-12 record.

Williams maintains that he doesn't regret the retirement decision. He thinks that it was the "most positive thing" he has ever done in his life, allowing him time to find himself.[5]

Return to football

Williams at the 2005 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.

Williams officially returned to the Dolphins on July 24, 2005, paid back a percentage of his signing bonus and completed his four game suspension for substance abuse. At his return press conference, Williams expressed his apologies for leaving the team two days before the start of training camp, which had contributed to the Dolphins' having their worst season in years, only winning four games in the 2004 season. Williams finished with six touchdowns and a 4.4 yards per carry average on 168 carries and 743 yards during 2005. While he shared time with Ronnie Brown, he did have 172 yards in week 16, and 108 yards in the 17th week.

On February 20, 2006, the football league announced that Williams had violated the NFL drug policy for the fourth time. His mother reportedly said she doesn't think it was another marijuana violation, and that he may have been in India when he was supposed to be tested. Nevertheless, on April 25, 2006, Williams was suspended for the entire 2006 season for testing positive for a drug other than marijuana. It has been suggested that the substance may have been an herb related to his interest in holistic medicine.[6]

Toronto Argonauts

With Williams suspended for the entire 2006 NFL season, the CFL's Toronto Argonauts decided to put Williams on the negotiation list for the 2006 season.[7] This guaranteed that the team would become the rightful CFL organization to negotiate with Williams if his NFL contract were to be terminated at any time.[8] The Dolphins allowed Williams to play for the Argonauts on the condition that he would return to them in 2007.[9]

On May 28, 2006 Williams became the highest-paid running back in the CFL when he signed a one-year C$240,000 contract with the Argonauts. He chose to wear the number 27 on his jersey.[10]

The signing drew the ire of former Argonauts quarterback Joe Theismann. On May 30, 2006, Theismann was interviewed by Toronto radio station The Fan 590 whereupon he criticized the Argonauts for signing the suspended Williams. Theismann claimed he was disgraced to be associated with a team that would knowingly sign "an addict" such as Williams. The CFL had no substance-abuse policy currently in place, nor did it prohibit its teams from signing players suspended from other leagues, despite Williams being under contract with the Dolphins for the 2006 season.[11]

The Argonauts' ownership responded to Theismann's criticism, noting that Theismann's son, Joe, pleaded guilty in 2002 to a felony charge of possessing drug paraphernalia. He received a 10-year suspended prison term, was placed on five years of probation and fined. "It's really a delicate subject for him to attack someone if he has that in his own family," Argo co-owner Cynamon said. "If I was his son and he's calling [Williams] a drug addict and he should quit and he's a loser, I'd be shattered. This thing is really bothersome."[12]

Williams made his official CFL debut on June 17, 2006, in a home game against the Tiger-Cats at the Rogers Centre. In that game, he rushed for 97 yards on 18 carries, with his longest carry for 35 yards in the fourth quarter. Williams caught two passes for 24 yards as the Argonauts defeated the Tiger-Cats by a score of 27-17.

On July 22, 2006, Williams suffered a broken bone in his left arm during a game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina, Saskatchewan.[13] He underwent surgery on July 23, 2006 to repair the broken bone.[14] Shortly after injuring his arm, Williams' suffered yet another injury after a door at the Argonauts' practice facility swung behind him and clipped the running back on his left achilles tendon requiring 16 stitches to close the gash.[15] During his recovery, Williams received hyperbaric oxygen therapy in St. Catharines, Ontario to expedite his return from injury.[16] In all, Williams missed two months of game action because of the injuries, returning on September 23, 2006 against the Calgary Stampeders.

In the 11 games that he played during 2006 CFL regular season, Williams rushed 109 times for 526 yards, scoring two touchdowns, with a long run of 35 yards. He caught 19 passes for 127 yards.[17]

Williams stated his love for Toronto and mentioned the possibility of returning to the Canadian game during his professional career. "I was thinking it wouldn't be bad to come back up here and kind of follow the same steps as Pinner -- play here a couple years and maybe get a chance to coach up here," Williams said. "Because I really like Toronto, I really like this organization ... you can live here, you know? You feel like you have a life. I come to work, I go home, play with my kid, walk to the store. It's really nice. I get to teach. It's wonderful here."[18 ] In another interview, he expressed further desire to remain in the CFL, "If I came back here, you can put me anywhere," he says. "Up here, I can play offense, defense, special teams. I can do everything. I can block, play tight end, running back, receiver — even play the line. The NFL is so structured — 'You do this.' Here I can do so much."[19]

With the controversy over, the Argonauts signing Williams prompted outgoing CFL commissioner Tom Wright, in his final state of the league address, to introduce a new rule that would come in effect before the start of the 2007 CFL season that would prevent a player under suspension in the NFL from signing with a CFL club. This rule has been informally dubbed "The Ricky Williams Rule."

The new rule, however, will be grandfathered so that players still playing in the league, such as Argonaut tackle Bernard Williams, who was suspended by the NFL for drug abuse and did not seek reinstatement when the ban ended, can continue playing.[20][21]

Second stint with Dolphins

On May 11, 2007, an anonymous source reported that Williams had failed a drug test again. The source indicated that NFL medical advisors have recommended to the commissioner that Williams not be allowed to apply for reinstatement in September.[22 ]

Williams adhered to a strict regimen of multiple drug tests per week in 2007 as part of his attempt to be reinstated by the NFL. He practiced yoga, which, he claimed, helped him to stop using marijuana.[23] In October 2007, Roger Goodell granted his request for reinstatement. Williams returned for a Monday Night Football game on November 26, 2007. He rushed 6 times for 15 yards before Lawrence Timmons, a Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, stepped on his right shoulder, tearing his pectoral muscle. The next day it was reported that he would miss the rest of the season,[24] and on November 28, Williams was placed on injured reserve.

In the 2009 season, starting running back of the Dolphins, Ronnie Brown, suffered a season-ending injury. So, Williams became the starter for the remainder of the season. In Week 15, he reached 1,000 yards rushing. This set an NFL record for longest span between 1,000-yard seasons at six years.

Personal life

Williams has admitted being very shy and was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, which he struggled to cope with during his football career. Williams was treated with therapy and medication. To alleviate his symptoms, he smoked marijuana during the NFL football season and was penalized.

Williams was briefly a spokesperson for the drug Paxil as treatment. He worked with the drug company GlaxoSmithKline to educate the public about the disorder.[25] Williams later quit Paxil saying the drug didn't agree with his diet.

Williams said marijuana had been a better treatment since it produced fewer side effects than Paxil.[26] In an interview with ESPN, Williams stated, "Marijuana is 10 times better for me than Paxil."

Williams admitted in a 60 Minutes interview that one of the reasons for his retirement was to avoid the humiliation of his marijuana use being made public with his third failed drug test.[27] After his retirement he quickly went to California to get a prescription for medical marijuana. In 2006 he claimed he no longer needs marijuana but doesn't criticize others' choices on the matter.[28] In April 2007, he reportedly tested positive for marijuana.[22 ]

Williams is a qualified yoga instructor. He has stated that one of his main reasons for joining the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts was for the opportunity to teach free yoga lessons at a local Toronto yoga facility. He is a confirmed Hindu.[29]

Williams has three children with three different women. He married his long-time girlfriend Kristen Barnes on September 4, 2009.[30] Williams is a vegetarian, and a supporter of PETA.[31]

In the media

  • He appeared in an infomercial for Natural Golf alongside Mike Ditka.[32]
  • HBO's Inside the NFL had a skit about Williams trying to return to the Dolphins. It featured him trying to raise $8.6 million, avoiding drug tests, and even asking Dan Marino to return with him.
  • His likeness appeared on the cover of the original NFL Street.
  • He played a cameo role in the feature film Stuck on You
  • He makes an appearance on the third season of the physical reality game show, Pros vs. Joes on SpikeTV

See also

References

  1. ^ "Ricky Williams #34". NFL Players. http://www.nflplayers.com/players/player.aspx?id=27018. Retrieved 2007-02-13.  
  2. ^ Richard, Dave (December 9, 2002). "Q & A: Williams makes it look easy". Miami Dolphins. http://www.nfl.com/teams/story/MIA/6002429. Retrieved 2007-01-26.  
  3. ^ "Williams Agrees To Large Deal", New York Times, May 15, 1999, http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/15/sports/plus-pro-football-new-orleans-williams-agrees-to-large-deal.html  
  4. ^ Kirwan, Pat (May 19, 1999), "Rookie mistake: Williams contract loaded with difficult to reach incentives", Sports Illustrated, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/inside_game/pat_kirwan/news/1999/05/19/kirwan_insider/  
  5. ^ "Lost and found: Ricky Williams interviewed". Toronto Sun. 2006-05-29. http://www.canoe.ca/Slam/Columnists/Lefko/2006/05/29/1603669-sun.html. Retrieved 2006-06-01.  
  6. ^ "NFL suspends Ricky Williams for 2006". The Sporting News. 2006-04-25. http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/articles/20060425/732980-p.html. Retrieved 2006-05-28.  
  7. ^ "Argonauts looking at Ricky Williams". TSN. 2006-04-27. http://www.tsn.ca/cfl/news_story.asp?ID=164059. Retrieved 2006-05-28.  
  8. ^ "Ricky Williams interested in joining Argos". TSN. 2006-05-03. http://www.tsn.ca/nfl/news_story.asp?ID=164772. Retrieved 2006-05-28.  
  9. ^ South Florida Sun-Sentinel story, not available online as of November 24, 2006.
  10. ^ "Williams headed to CFL, signs with Argonauts". ESPN. 2006-05-29. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2461281. Retrieved 2006-05-29.  
  11. ^ :The Fan 590 - Toronto's Sports Radio
  12. ^ "Argos owner blasts Theismann". Associated Press. June 1, 2006. http://www.ajc.com/services/content/sports/falcons/stories/0602theismann.html?cxtype=rss&cxsvc=7&cxcat=21.  
  13. ^ "Williams out indefinitely with broken arm". TSN. 2006-07-22. http://www.tsn.ca/cfl/news_story/?ID=172092&hubname=. Retrieved 2006-07-22.  
  14. ^ "Toronto Argonauts Statement - Ricky Williams". Toronto Argonauts press release. 2006-07-24. http://www.canoe.ca/Argos/News/2006/07/24/1700575.html. Retrieved 2006-07-25.  
  15. ^ "Ricky ready to return for Argos". Rogers Sportsnet. 2006-09-14. http://www.sportsnet.ca/football/cfl/article.jsp?content=20060914_184311_984. Retrieved 2006-09-23.  
  16. ^ "Williams turns to oxygen tank to heal arm". National Post. 2006-08-15. http://www.cfl.ca/index.php?module=newser&func=display&nid=10758. Retrieved 2006-08-15.  
  17. ^ "Ricky Williams (roster info)". CFL.ca Network. http://www.cfl.ca/index.php?module=roster&func=display&ros_id=859. Retrieved 2006-11-24.  
  18. ^ Fitz-Gerald, Sean (2006-08-24). "Williams weighing return to CFL". National Post. http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/sports/story.html?id=fed69e7e-e5a6-47b4-b8f0-0b7945eb7ec9&k=13775. Retrieved 2006-08-24.  
  19. ^ Saraceno, Joe (2006-11-06). "Living in the moment, Williams enjoying his time in Canada". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/saraceno/2006-11-05-williams_x.htm?POE=SPOISVA. Retrieved 2006-11-24.  
  20. ^ "CFL to bar suspended NFL players". CBC Sports. 2006-11-20. http://www.cbc.ca/sports/greycup/story/2006/11/16/cfl-rules.html?ref=rss. Retrieved 2006-11-24.  
  21. ^ "CFL unveils 'Ricky Williams Rule'". The Toronto Star. 2006-11-17. http://www.thestar.com/article/154141. Retrieved 2007-03-31.  
  22. ^ a b Mortensen, Chris (May 12, 2007). "Docs recommend delay of Williams' NFL reinstatement". ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2867381. Retrieved 2007-05-13.  
  23. ^ Ostler, Scott (March 1, 2007). "Williams' clear vision: An NFL comeback". San Francisco Chronicle. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2007/03/01/SPG5KODA3M1.DTL. Retrieved 2007-04-08.  
  24. ^ Associated Press (November 27, 2007). [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3130119 Agent: Injured Williams out for season. ESPN. Accessed November 27, 2007.
  25. ^ "Social anxiety disorder: Miami Dolphin Ricky Williams". USA Today. 2002-10-22. http://www.usatoday.com/community/chat/2002-10-22-williams.htm. Retrieved 2006-05-28.  
  26. ^ http://www.mpp.org/releases/nr080404williams.html
  27. ^ "Ricky Williams Returns". 60 Minutes. 2005-09-18. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/12/16/60minutes/main661572_page2.shtml. Retrieved 2006-07-21.  
  28. ^ "Yoga helps Williams find his karma". The Globe and Mail. 2006-05-30. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060530.WILLIAMS30/TPStory/TPSports/Football/. Retrieved 2006-05-31.  
  29. ^ Although odd, Ricky Williams isn't without his charms Pro Football Weekly - November 23, 2007
  30. ^ Cole, Jason. "Will Ricky Williams get stuck in Canada". MSNBC.com. http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/12889464/site/21683474/page/2/. Retrieved 2008-08-10.  
  31. ^ Santiago, Jennifer. "Ricky Williams: Taking the Veggie Plunge". PETAWorld. http://www.petaworld.com/RickyWilliams.asp. Retrieved 2006-06-09.  
  32. ^ "Mike Ditka Joins Natural Golf Team". The Wire. http://www.golftransactions.com/people/ditka102802.html. Retrieved 2006-11-25.  

Further reading

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Rich Gannon
Pro Bowl MVP
2003
Succeeded by
Marc Bulger
Preceded by
Charles Woodson
Heisman Trophy Winner
1998
Succeeded by
Ron Dayne
Preceded by
Peyton Manning
Maxwell Award
1998
Succeeded by
Ron Dayne
Preceded by
Charles Woodson
Walter Camp Award
1998
Succeeded by
Ron Dayne
Preceded by
Byron Hanspard
Doak Walker Award
1998
1997
Succeeded by
Ron Dayne
Preceded by
Charles Woodson
NCAA Football Cover Athlete
2000
Succeeded by
Shaun Alexander







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