By Alec Radzikowski, TheSportsHatch managing editor
Been doing a little thinking about Ricky Williams this morning. I remember when Mike Ditka gave up his entire draft in 1999 to move up and select him at No. 5 overall. But that wasn't enough. Two more picks (1st and 3rd) were necessary to land the dread-headed wonderback from the University of Texas.
That was the first time a team ended up with only one pick on draft day. Obviously Ditka the coach had more merits than Ditka the GM. Most people know that in the NFL, you can't lay your team's fortunes on just one player. In 2002, Ricky was traded to the Miami Dolphins and payed immediate dividends with an All-Pro season, finishing with 1,853 running yards.
Then things went downhill. In May of 2004, the NFL announced that Williams tested positive for marijuana. The test was conducted in December of 2003. It was reported that Ricky also tested positive after first joining the Dolphins. He was facing a four-game suspension and a $650,000 fine for his second offense. Then there were rumors of a third offense shortly before Williams abruptly retired on Aug. 2, 2004. Ricky returned in 2005 only to fail his fourth drug test in 2006. The league suspended Williams for the entire 2006 season.
So what do you do when you're having trouble in the National Football League? You go to Canada. Ricky signed with the Toronto Argonauts on May 28, 2006. He became the league's highest paid running back (1 yr./$240,000). Ricky had success in the CFL, but also missed some time due to injuries. His controversial signing led the CFL commissioner to make a provision that suspended NFL players weren't allow to play in the CFL. People called it the Ricky Williams rule. Ricky could have stayed in the CFL. He and other players were grandfathered in.
It didn't take long for Ricky to target a return to the NFL. In May 2007, it was reported that Williams failed another drug test. He agreed to a strict regimen of weekly drug tests to prove he was clean from marijuana. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated him and Ricky returned on Monday Night Football on November 26, 2007. Williams rushed 6 times for 15 yards before tearing his pectoral muscle after getting stepped on by a linebacker. Ricky was done for the rest of the season.
Williams was always a character. Remember when he talked to reporters wearing his helmet with dark visor? It looked like Darth Vader's apprentice was doing the interview. Ricky started doing yoga. He became a vegetarian and supporter of PETA. When Williams returned to the NFL after his latest absence, it looked like his days of being a monster running back were over.
But this wasn't the case. Ricky proved that during his impressive performance in the Dolphins 24-17 win over the Carolina Panthers last night. He rushed for 119 yards and two TDs. Williams also caught two passed for 19 yards and a TD. All of this work was done as Ricky filled in for backfield mate Ronnie Brown, who's out for the year with a significant foot injury. Ricky Williams is certainly a memorable character. Luckily for the Dolphins, he's everyone remember how good of a football player he still is.