Today, Ricky Williams announced he’s retiring from the NFL. In a football sense, it doesn’t really matter. He was a nice 2nd string back behind Ray Rice, and offered some power occasionally. In 2011 he had 444 yards. Oddly symmetrical, but nothing special. Nothing in the football world has been special for Ricky for a couple years now. His strange odyssey to find himself has been documented and joked about thoroughly. The ganja-smoking superstar was never really ready for fame, and dealt with it the same way anybody who isn’t ready for fame does. He blew it. In his three years with the Saints, he showed flashes of brilliance, but nothing to support the boatload Saints’ coach Mike Ditka gave up for the Texas standout. He had two seasons where he rushed for a thousand yards, but only accumulated 16 touchdowns his three years in New Orleans. But an odd thing happened in 2002, Ricky ran. In his first year as a Dolphin, he rushed for over 1,800 yards, and matched his touchdown total with the Saints in a single season in Miami. It looked like he was bound for stardom once again, but Ricky did as he has his whole career; he self-destructed.
His numbers were decent the next year, but nothing compared to 2002. The years following that breakout season were filled with soul-searching for Williams, who never really ran at an elite level again. I think as fans, we looked at Williams as a failure, or somebody who took the fame and threw it away. I think that’s simply because we have different priorities than Ricky Williams, he wanted to be happy. Whether it’s being shacked up with an ounce and a guitar, or quietly helping the Ravens, Ricky Williams always put football second. He’s an introspective, intelligent man that will have a career in some form post-football. He isn’t just a hippie-dippie whacko eating weed brownies and spitting out conspiracy theories. He genuinely believes the things he says, to the point that he will defend his ideas far more than he’ll fight for his football identity. Ricky Williams could’ve been a hall of fame elite running back, but instead he became a person that he wanted to be. Finding self-respect was more important than touchdowns and yards. And there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.