He’s the “out there” player, Ricky Williams. He’s the guy on the team who dances to the beat of a different drummer. He’s on a different plane, a different course. His attitude is rather off-the-wall. I just don’t know if it’s sincere, or can be trusted.
Two years ago, Ricky Williams unceremoniously quit playing for the Miami Dolphins, mere weeks before the regular season was about to begin. His move caused a season of chaos for the Dolphins, but, ultimately, caused the team to get a coach who apparently is doing great things in making the team better. He quit, he said at the time, because he was tired of playing football, and wanted to do other things. So, he was giving up his salary and exploring the world. Okay, I was upset that his quitting ruined the Dolphins’ chance that year season (not they really had a chance anyway), but I was rather impressed with Ricky for making that bold decision. Good for him, I thought, for doing what he thought he wanted. That year, Ricky’s tour of the world was a bit surreal, from an extended camping trip in the Australian outback, to some rather flaky yoga university in upstate California, the media was all over his somewhat “hippie” lifestyle.
Somewhere in there, the news came out that his retirement may not have been quite so altruistic as originally thought. Turns out he’d likely have been suspended for marijuana use, had he played that year. That was likely a big reason in why he didn’t play.
Okay, so he probably lied about why he quit. I can live with that. He still seemed like a guy who was sincerely trying to find his place in the world.
When the Dolphins came calling him about the little matter of 6 million or so dollars that he owed them because of renigging on his contract, Ricky decided that, rather than do the bankruptcy thing, he’d play football again. So, through a strange series of circumstances, Ricky Williams came back this year to play football for the Miami Dolphins. How would the fans react to him? How would the players react, those whom he bailed on a year earlier?
By all accounts, Ricky was welcomed back by all. His play throughout the season was impressive enough, bordering on super by the end of the season. His work-ethic, say his team-mates and coaches, has been most impressive.
And the media, well the media likes getting those off-the-wall Ricky quotes.
He’s great for sound-bytes, because his personal philosophy just doesn’t seem to jibe with the mentality of a modern-day sports figure. His latest bit of publicity was typical Ricky: Because he quit on the Dolphins, he had to play this year for the league minimum salary (about $500.000). He was recently asked if he’d be willing to play next year for the league minimum again. He said he didn’t see a problem with it. Hey, half a million dollars is a lot of money, and who couldn’t live comfortably on that kind of dough? (that’s a paraphrase. Of course, come time for his agent to try to renegotiate his contract, I’m sure Ricky will be told to sing a different tune). Whether it’s sincere or not, it’s nice to hear a professional athlete talk like that.
Personally, I was glad to have Ricky Williams back and hope he’s a Dolphin next year too. I just can’t fully commit to him like I did in the past, because I’ll always expect tomorrow’s headline to read: “Williams Quits Football Again”.