With a one-year suspension from the NFL, Ricky Williams still wants the ball!

With a one-year suspension from the NFL, Ricky Williams still wants the ball! 

By Justin Mangan 

  

As most of us know, Ricky Williams, the running back of the Miami Dolphins has found himself in violation with the NFL once again. Previously, tests in the past found Williams testing positive for marijuana and accordingly suspended him for several games. This time around however, the analysis apparently revealed a drug other than marijuana. This becomes Williams fourth violation of the leagues substance abuse policy since being in the league. What’s even greater is the fact that Williams will be forced to sit out the entire 2007 NFL season. Now the running back that retired in the 2004 season and returned a year later in wake of his suspension appears once again to want to rejoin the Dolphins. 

  

Through all the commotion and talk, the former 1998 Heisman winner has continued to participate in the NFL’s substance abuse program. This means that he must have up to 10 random drug tests per month and remain under the supervision of a medical advisor. For a guy who has continuously broken the substance abuse program throughout his career, and has even taken a season off of football all together, it may seem surprising that Williams wants to rejoin the game of football. What’s more surprising is the continuous efforts that former Spartan head coach Nick Saban, now head coach of the Miami Dolphins, is showing the running back. Saban who testified on Wiliams behalf appears to want Williams back in uniform. On the eve of the 2006 NFL Draft, Saban even had dinner with Williams. “Ricky did an outstanding job for us on the field last year,” Saban said. “He’s a good competitor and a good teammate, and he was never an issue or a problem for us in any way.” 

  

As of now, Ricky Williams is still trying to pursue a career in the NFL. Unfortunately he will have to wait a year, as he may spend time in a league that might not be quite as attractive as the locales he played in before. More over, Williams is indeed interested in spending time in the Canadian Football League playing for the Toronto Argonauts. A stint that will take an extreme pay-cut but help the running back get back into NFL form. After spending just one year with the Argonauts, he can apply for reinstatement to the NFL. For Williams, this stint appears to be in his best interest. It offers him the ability to continue playing football, even though it may not be at the level he is accustomed to in the past, to stay in shape, and even earn a contract. By doing this he can focus on his personal and professional goals. After this past weekend, it appears evident that Williams will indeed play for the Argonauts as he has received permission from the Dolphins office. 

  

Another important factor in having Williams join the CFL are the rules. With only having three downs to get a first, and the longer field, the game play and calls are extremely different. What I mean by this is the CFL is a pass oriented league. So the smash mouth runner will not be getting the ball up the gut very often. Teams simply don’t run the ball as often, and as we all know by watching Williams highlights in the past, he doesn’t have very good hands. 

  

I would just like to note that the Toronto roster also includes two former first round draft picks, offensive lineman Bernard Williams, and wide receiver R. Jay Soawrd. Soward, like Ricky Williams, experienced difficulty in the NFL because of repeated drug violations. Also, former Viking running back Ontario Smith has recently joined the league after a violation involving a Whizzinator, a kit used to pass drug tests. Given these instances, the CFL could be a place were troubled former NFL players get deployed after violations; but that’s beyond the point.

  

Once again, with Williams receiving the chance to play in the CFL, the experience would be a tremendous advantage for him. Beyond the salary factor, being part of a team would give him the ability to practice on the field and maintain conditioning if he does plan to return to the NFL for the 2007 season. As we look back to the 2004 season when Williams decided to retire, he spent an extended vacation in Australia and India. Here he studied yoga and holistic medicine. And as we all remember, his return to the NFL didn’t hold the same prestige and impact that he once had. After loosing much weight, mostly muscle mass, he just wasn’t the power back he once was. If Williams fails to decide to play in the CFL he would still be granted the ability to workout. Maybe even given a workout regime by Saban himself. However, a NFL caliber player cannot simply take off several years in the NFL and expect to still make an impact, especially at Williams age. At the start of the 2007 season Williams would be 31 years old, and as most of us football fans know, the beating running backs take get harder with age. Their bodies just can’t recover from all the hits he will take up the middle. With the Dolphins taking Cedric Benson in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, it appears that he will be the future ball carrier for the Dolphins, while questions arise asking what Williams role on the Dolphins will be.

  

As of now Williams will be allowed to play with Toronto, but he will not come cheaply. He and the Argonauts have agreed to a one year $250,000 contract, one that makes him easily the highest paid running back in the CFL. At first the Dolphins were reluctant to let him play in the CFL, but that was only because of the risk of injury. Saban said it best, “We want Ricky back on our team,” and he is giving him every opportunity to get back on the field. 

  

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