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Ricky Williams knows how to finish

R.Williams.jpgWith Ronnie Brown possibly out for the season, Ricky Williams is back in the spotlight.  Perhaps the extra attention will remind people how satisfying the final portion of Ricky’s NFL odyssey has been.

When Williams retired more than five years ago, no one would have thought he’d still be going strong at age 32. 

More than three years have passed since his year-long suspension and a stint in the CFL; Now Williams is one of the better running backs in the league.  (Williams currently has career highs in yards per carry and yards per catch.  He’s on pace for 1,335 yards from scrimmage this year.) 

There’s a reason why Williams has survived four coaching changes and front office upheavals in Miami.  There’s also a reason Bill Parcells and G.M. Jeff Ireland made sure to retain Williams when they arrived, then happily to handed Ricky a two-year, $7.75 million contract after he turned 32.

Jason Taylor calls Williams one of the “one of the best teammates you’ll ever have.”  Williams left the Dolphins the first time wondering if he loved football, and came back a hard-working, highly productive role player.  “He went through what he had to go through, and he came back from it,” Taylor said. 

While players younger than him have been declining for years, Williams has improved.

I was inspired to write this post after seeing Williams’ name oddly placed on Will Leitch’s excellent list of figures who had an awful decade for Deadspin.  Curtis Ennis, William Green, and Ron Dayne had rough decades.  So did Tim Couch and Akili Smith, taken ahead of Williams. 

Williams has survived ridiculous expectations placed on him after Mike Ditka’s silly trade. With the help of his time away from football, he withstood after back-to-back seasons over 380 carries in the middle of the decade.  (He led the league with 1,853 rushing yards in one of them.)  There are probably aspects Williams would change about his career, but it’s hard to argue with the finish.

Of the 25 running backs drafted in 1999, only two are left: Williams and Kevin Faulk.  Both are invaluable role players that would prefer to stay out of the spotlight.  Starting Thursday night, Ricky is back in it whether he likes it or not. 

I’m looking forward to watching the rest of his final act.

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40 Responses to “Ricky Williams knows how to finish”
  1. ZombieRevolution says: Nov 18, 2009 10:44 AM

    Wow- a positive story about a old player without any jokes about past problems the player had and no mention of “slappy”. Good job Florio- those that say you take the most pleasure in the NFL’s problems are wrong.
    What- no wait, who wrote this piece?

  2. Levito says: Nov 18, 2009 10:47 AM

    Of the 25 running backs drafted in 1999, only two are left: Williams and Kevin Faulk.
    Hmm, and both of them are potheads.

  3. RexRyan'sStressedLapband says: Nov 18, 2009 10:50 AM

    There are probably aspects Williams would change about his career, but it’s argue to hard with the finish.
    ======================================
    Either I’m stupid and you’re just trying to be cute or…
    When Ricky left us way back when, I almost burned my 34 jersey. I’m so glad I never did it, because he has really become a great story and example of overcoming your own demons, and I’m glad to see good things come to him. I’ve always seen him as a good person, and he really seems to have found his balance.
    Please run your ass off tomorrow night Ricky!

  4. Asswipe Johnson (Pronounced Az-Wee-Pay) says: Nov 18, 2009 10:53 AM

    While Parcells teams are not adverse to using aging running backs in primary roles (see Otis Anderson)…I suspect this will be equally as much about the coming out party of Lex Hilliard. As one can expect the Phins to continue onward with a two headed rushing attack.

  5. phileborn says: Nov 18, 2009 10:57 AM

    As a Finatic, Ricky has been my favorite NFL player for several years. I’m glad to see him doing his thing and accepting his role in a shared backfield. Dave Wannstach overworked the guy during his time here. A good staff is in place to get the most out of this guys talent. Run Ricky Run!

  6. Youngone says: Nov 18, 2009 10:58 AM

    I never read who writes the articles before I read them but I could clearly tell this was not Florio. He has less respect and taste.

  7. SF Saints Fan says: Nov 18, 2009 11:05 AM

    Gregg,
    I see you read my post from yesterday on the Ronnie Brown injury……..
    “# SF Saints Fan says: November 17, 2009 4:59 PM
    Ricky is “only” 32 years old and he has 105 carries for 558 yards for a 5.3 average and 18 receptions for 193 yards for a total of 751 yards from scrimmage. He also has 7 TD’s. That projects out to 1335 yards from scrimmage and 12-13 TD’s for the season.
    Ricky has shown some amazing speed this year and has really played well all year.
    Not to shabby for an “old man”.
    Go Ricky!!”
    Can I get some attribution for your “story”, or do I get the ESPN treatment……

  8. chucktownYP says: Nov 18, 2009 11:06 AM

    Personally, I hope his strong finish starts AFTER Thursday night. I hope he goes out with a bang with his career, but as for the game Thurs. night, I hope he just goes down in flames. GO PANTHERS!

  9. BigKatt says: Nov 18, 2009 11:07 AM

    Everyone hates on Ricky for this or that but put it this way: if you worked a job you didn’t like or were not passionate about would you not walk away from it? He did, took some time to get himself together and then realized football was something he was cared greatly about and honestly has been one of the most productive backs in the past decade. His first year with the Dolphins (2002) was possibly the best season by a running back this decade. If he decides to come back next year, however unlikely it may be he has a realistic shot at gaining 10,000 rushing yards for his career. Doesn’t sound like a bad decade to me especially since he missed 2 years! Run Ricky Run

  10. DonTerrelli says: Nov 18, 2009 11:07 AM

    Aye, here’s to Riiicky”
    /raises a beer to toast

  11. NYBearsFan says: Nov 18, 2009 11:19 AM

    Great article Gregg.
    I’ve been a huge fan of his since his days in Texas. I remember him playing against the other Ricky Williams and A&M when he broke the record for rushing yards. It just sucks it had to be broken the next year by a tub of lard who couldn’t make it in the NFL.
    Keep playing hard Ricky, and I’ll burn one down with you when you finally do retire!

  12. -RoNiN- says: Nov 18, 2009 11:24 AM

    Am i the only one that noticed that someone has been hitting the schnapps??

  13. nasheagles says: Nov 18, 2009 11:27 AM

    when you dont play for a few years– of course you last longer….

  14. JoeSchmoe says: Nov 18, 2009 11:33 AM

    Weed slows your aging. I’m 32 myself… and feel like I’m 28. Go Ricky!

  15. Cmoney20 says: Nov 18, 2009 11:38 AM

    Didnt the other Ricky Williams play for Texas Tech? Are we just making stuff up now?

  16. texasPHINSfan says: Nov 18, 2009 11:40 AM

    great article. glad you can add something like this to the site once in awhile gregg, to give us some positives amidst all the negative posts.
    ricky had his issues and has been ostracized by the NFL for an activity that most of us have done ourselves. i won’t be a hypocrite. as a dolphins fan, his moves in 2004 about retirement were devastating. many of us hated him. but he has come back and earned our trust again.
    he really is a good guy to boot. the worst thing he did was enjoy a plant that many of us have or do – he hasn’t hit a woman, gotten a DUI, “made it rain”, or anything like that. class guy who’s a great teammate. He also has to be the freshest 32 year old running back ever.
    go ricky!

  17. JSpicoli says: Nov 18, 2009 11:45 AM

    So another athlete gets a pass on past transgressions, if he is good at his sport.
    If Ricky were not doing what he can do, you’d be spouting stupid pot jokes.

  18. Gregg Rosenthal says: Nov 18, 2009 11:52 AM

    SF Saints fan: Our comment guru/approval matrix just mentioned your comment above to me.
    I’d be happy to give you credit – believe me we go out of our way to give credit and avoid ESPN treatment – but honestly hadn’t seen it until now.
    Good to see plenty of Ricky appreciation out there.

  19. NYBearsFan says: Nov 18, 2009 11:56 AM

    Cmoney,
    You’re right, I am making stuff up. Well, apparently my memory isn’t what it used to be. Been hanging out with Ricky’s people too much.

  20. VonClausewitz says: Nov 18, 2009 12:14 PM

    Ricky’s been a class person since the start. We in Toronto got a chance to see who he was as a person while he was being demonized down south. He’s one of the most articulate, thoughtful and yet soft-spoken guys you can ever meet. He’s a good guy and I’m happy for his success. But beyond that I’m glad he stuck it out and didn’t give up while all the haters wanted to see him fail. His perseverance has allowed people to see the real Ricky. It’s a lesson in the hate of snap judgments and, perhaps, that this faux-moralist anti-pot mentality that pervades the USA is evil. All of you who wanted to see a good young man’s life destroyed because he smoked a j should be ashamed of yourselves. And ask yourself, if you have the intellectual honesty to do so, how many more good guys are rotting in jail for doing something similar and equally harmless. Not to be too dramatic but the blood of honest men is on your hands, you who would allow this farce to continue.

  21. The Notorious V.I.C. says: Nov 18, 2009 12:14 PM

    I love Ricky Williams because he’s an ORIGINAL, and not in a “look at me” way like Chad Johnson.
    Ricky’s a free spirit who doesn’t live and die for football, and for some reason a lot of simple minded people are bothered by that.

  22. alewatcher says: Nov 18, 2009 12:32 PM

    # JSpicoli says: November 18, 2009 11:45 AM
    So another athlete gets a pass on past transgressions, if he is good at his sport.
    If Ricky were not doing what he can do, you’d be spouting stupid pot jokes.
    ——————–
    Smoking a little weed is not exactly in the same league as felony DUI, or shooting yourself in the leg, in public, with an illegal handgun. It’s kind of ridiculous that the NFL even bothers to test for it. It’s not as if it’s a performance enhancing drug, unless you’re looking to enhance your ability to chow down Doritos.
    I’m glad Ricky is back. He’s a decent guy, and a hell of a player to boot. A couple years off has extended his career, and I say good for him.

  23. ftomeo says: Nov 18, 2009 12:34 PM

    ” If he decides to come back next year, however unlikely it may be he has a realistic shot at gaining 10,000 rushing yards for his career.”
    Already a done deal. This would have been Ricky’s last year of his deal, but he extended the contract for another year and announced that this season and the next will be his last and then he will retire.

  24. overkil2 says: Nov 18, 2009 12:39 PM

    “JSpicoli says:
    November 18, 2009 11:45 AM
    So another athlete gets a pass on past transgressions, if he is good at his sport.
    If Ricky were not doing what he can do, you’d be spouting stupid pot jokes.

    Oh the irony.

  25. spliffbunker says: Nov 18, 2009 12:45 PM

    i felt bad for Dolphin fans in 2004 but i was glad Ricky walked…i think he would have left the game a cripple the way Wannstedt was using him
    its been great to see him come back the last few years & to see the respect his teammates have for him…not to mention Parcells
    it would make my day to see Bob ( call the police if you see a pot-smoker ) Nelson comment on this post
    Rastafari Ricky !!!

  26. JSpicoli says: Nov 18, 2009 12:50 PM

    “Smoking a little weed is not exactly in the same league as felony DUI, or….”
    Duh? My point was not WHAT the transgression is/was, it is that the media is blind when you are good at what you do. They would make a big stinking deal out of the pot (like they did when he retired), if he was rushing for 2.3 yards a carry.
    You missed the point. The mediots will get all over pot use, if it suits their agenda.

  27. obscenery says: Nov 18, 2009 12:54 PM

    I don’t want this to be the final chapter in his career. Let’s have him back on the Fins next year too!!!
    I’ve been a Ricky fan since the days leading up to his draft. Run Ricky Run!!!

  28. MitchAlbom'sEars says: Nov 18, 2009 1:02 PM

    I was gonna make an important comment here but I got high.
    I was gonna praise PFT and Florio but I got high.
    My love for the NFL is still messed up and I know why(why man)
    Chorus:
    Because I got high
    Because I got high
    Because I got high

  29. SF Saints Fan says: Nov 18, 2009 1:05 PM

    Gregg Rosenthal:
    If you look back through my posts you will find several regarding Ricky Williams. I went through and did an analysis of his chances to pass certain running backs and how long he would have to stay in the league. As a Saints fan, I have liked Ricky since his first year in the league. If you look at his stats he has a chance to catch, Earl Campbell, in the all time rushing totals. One of the best running backs to come out of the state of Texas. I also think it is interesting that Ricky is still playing at a very high level and Edge is done. A couple of years off saved some wear and tear on the body, but still pretty interesting.
    If you want another idea for a story look back through my posts and see all of the info about possible tie breakers between the Saints and Vikings for home field advantage. I know it is very early for this, but it could come down to the fourth and maybe even the fifth tie breaker between these two teams. It is that close….

  30. ftomeo says: Nov 18, 2009 1:06 PM

    Spicoli, if only they would. You aren’t seriously claiming that 9 times out of 10 when Ricky’s name is mentioned it isn’t accompanied by a pot joke, are you? Just peruse the last 10 PFT posts (particularly if it’s written by Florio).

  31. texasPHINSfan says: Nov 18, 2009 1:07 PM

    JSpicoli – i get what you’re saying.
    unrelated but not really – i am amused at how much the NFL at large punished ricky for the pot use. of all the bad things NFL players do, what ricky did was so small in the grand scheme, and he hurt nobody…. yet you’d think it was a death sentence the way some people act.
    there were huge potheads in my high school, and they were the most popular kids in school. if you smoke pot in the NFL, you’re the worst person ever, apparently.
    not to mention what the other poster said about “performance enhancing”….. i don’t know what performance that weed is supposed to enhance, other than appetite – but it surely isn’t fitness, strength, or reaction times.

  32. Champs says: Nov 18, 2009 1:41 PM

    As the fifth overall pick, Ricky Williams has a long way to go before catching up to #4, Edgerrin James.

  33. Silverdog says: Nov 18, 2009 1:50 PM

    To be blunt, Ricky is stoked! Despite his age, he has no chronic injuries.

  34. Mike McCarthy's Moobs says: Nov 18, 2009 2:06 PM

    Legalize
    Tax
    Regulate
    All this hubub over a harmless plant. I can’t wait until California finally makes it fully legalized in 2010.

  35. SF Saints Fan says: Nov 18, 2009 2:58 PM

    Champs:
    I agree, but Ricky has over 2/3 the production of Edge, took a couple of years “off”, and is still playing at a very high level.
    All this after just about everyone wrote Ricky off as a bust.
    All in all a pretty damned good career and he is still going strong, while Edge can’t get a sniff from anybody.
    Ricky is still as fast as he has ever been and can still knock people over. I just hope he stays in long enough to prove all of his critics wrong, but gets out soon enough so that he can still walk when he is 50.

  36. finsbooyah says: Nov 18, 2009 3:29 PM

    RICKYYY!!!! I must admit I wasn’t his biggest fan when he suddenly retired. But he needed to do it to battle some personal demons (social anxiety among others) and find out if he truly wanted to be a football player.
    By all accounts he has returned to be a great teammate and leader for the Dolphins, and he clearly is still a top RB in this league. He is signed through next year and says he will retire after that. It’ll be sad to see him go. But Ricky, I’ll have one ready to burn when you do!

  37. Gregg Rosenthal says: Nov 18, 2009 4:13 PM

    SF Saints: Interesting idea about Saints-Vikings. More for down the line … but we’ll definitely give you credit for idea if we use it.
    And you aren’t the only Saints fan I know that has a soft spot for Ricky despite his up and down time there, which is cool.

  38. ftomeo says: Nov 18, 2009 4:39 PM

    SF Saints, I guess there is always time to change his mind, but Ricky has already announced he’ll retire after next season. Considering who Ricky is, I would imagine he’ll stick to his word, unlike others.
    On the other hand, if Ronnie is out for the rest of the season (I’m suspicious), maybe all that playing time could affect his decision.

  39. SaintsBucsPanthersSUKK says: Nov 18, 2009 8:57 PM

    SPELLING ERROR ALERT:
    Former Bears RB Curtis Enis has only one “n” and not two, just like penis.

  40. SaintsBucsPanthersSUKK says: Nov 18, 2009 9:32 PM

    The above comment by yours truly was banned this morning, but it’s okay 11 hours later? It ain’t vulgar or vindictive, not like all those other ones. :)

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