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Now It Is ‘Run, Ricky, Run’ Time
PHILADELPHIA — As anticipated NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams an apparent “last chance” to save his NFL career by ending the talented, but enigmatic player’s over 18 month drug suspension.
Williams seems to have finally put the “chronic” down and he has even been welcomed back by the Dolphins, who he unexpectedly retired on in 2004 to travel abroad and study holistic medicine, only to return in 2005 after the Dolphins won a substantial judgment against him regarding his signing bonus.
The former Heisman Trophy winner flew to Miami on Thursday and passed his physical plus survived/impressed his meet and greet with Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron.
He had expressed no desire to deal with Williams earlier in training camp, but with the Dolphins struggling as the NFL’s only winless team at 0-9 and with star running back Ronnie Brown on injured reserve (knee – ACL) there maybe room for the 2002 NFL rushing champion.
Williams’ agent Leigh Steinberg said he was encouraged by a phone conversation on Wednesday with Matt Thomas, Dolphins general counsel-football administration. The mega agent added, “His indication was they were interested in Ricky” and “The spirit of the discussion was welcoming.”
“It was a very similar discussion to what you would have regarding a draft choice or any returning player. The only contingent was whether they would have him practice Friday or Monday.”
By deciding to bring on Williams, the Dolphins will have a two-week window to allow him to practice, but not count against their roster. The 30-year-old Williams would be eligible to play against the Steelers on November 26th.
He maybe very rusty in his return after last playing in only 12 NFL games since the 2004 season, before his original suspension in April 2006 after violating the league drug policy for the fourth time. He did try to stay in shape by playing for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL) last season (11 games, 109 carries, 526 yards with two TDs).
Williams has been working with a clinician to help him with his social issues that led to his four substance abuse violations, which landed him on the Commish’s bad list. It appears that Williams is now family based and is sober, so his potential is enormous.
Expect for the Dolphins to get him on the field and a member of Williams’ legal team said, “He is grateful for commissioner Goodell’s decision. Ricky is committed to making the most of the opportunity to rejoin the NFL.”
By showing up clean and sober, “I say run Ricky, run” and this time he doesn’t even have to wear a wedding dress as he did in a famous 1999 photo with Mike Ditka after the ’99 Draft.
I am firmly behind Williams and I vividly remember him rushing to glory as a Longhorn setting the NCAA record for most yards in a career. I have talked with several people around the league about him and he is a “good guy”, but has always been an enigma on and off the field due to his social issues that were never addressed fully until now.
Williams has been working out and weighs a fit 230 pounds, so expect the talented back to be ready to play. For you smart fantasy football players, try to grab him off the waiver wire. Remember in 2005 in only 12 games, he ran for 743 yards with a 4.4 yards per carry average and 6 touchdowns.
In his 82 game NFL career, Williams has run for 7,097 yards, 47 touchdowns with a 4.0 ypc.