One of the sad realities of the NFL is that many gridiron heros go on to be homeless drug addicts. A future one just announced his retirement.
MIAMI – The Dolphins’ series of off-season headaches turned into a crisis this weekend when star running back Ricky Williams told coach Dave Wannstedt he is retiring – a week before training camp.
Despite attempts by friends and colleagues to talk him out of quitting, Williams said Saturday he was overjoyed by his decision, one that has been months in the making.
“You can’t understand how free I feel,” Williams said before boarding a plane in Hawaii and heading to Asia to begin several months of travel. Williams, 27, has played five years in the NFL, including the first three with New Orleans. He said he plans to file his retirement papers with the NFL on Monday or Tuesday.
…Williams said his failed marijuana tests had a minor influence on his decision to retire, but only one of many factors. It didn’t cause him to retire, he said, as much as reinforce his reasons for wanting to do so.
I first met Ricky when he moved to New Orleans. I got to talk to him his first day here and was at every most major event he did for his first year in the NFL. To say he was a freak would be putting it mildly. I saw his bizarre behavior at his first training camp at Lacrosse, Wisconsin and I was at that infamous interview he did with his helmet on. Ricky never seemed comfortable in any situation.
The only time I saw him comfortable was when I went to his place and brought my neighbor’s 5 year old son. He and Ricky connected. By the end of the day Ricky was telling the kid, “You can call me Uncle Ricky.” (Which was an odd picture considering Williams was in dreads and the kid was clean cut, white as sheet of paper and had blond hair.) At the time I remember thinking he reminded me of Michael Jackson in many ways.
Ten years from now, all Ricky’s money will probably be gone and the cocaine will have won. Ricky was never prepared for the wealth and fame and as one who knew him, I find this quote telling, “You can’t understand how free I feel.” This is classic Williams, he always had a paranoid streak.
I wish him all the best, I really do. Sadly, I just don’t have high hopes for the poor guy.
For these of you that care, this is a picture of the first time Ricky touched a football as a pro. The first play on the first day of training camp, Ditka called a play to Ricky, setting the tone for the rest of the season and ultimately, Ditka’s tenure at New Orleans. So much for the good ‘ol days.