In 1999, running back Ricky Williams ruled the league. Entering as a top-1o pick for whom the Saints gave up their entire draft and then some, Williams’ high-end abilities and enigmatic personality made him one of the most intriguing players in the game.
After a trade to Miami and multiple seasons of back-breaking workloads, Williams abruptly retired in 2004, was suspended for part of 2005, all of 2006, and part of 2007, played in one game in 2007 before suffering an injury, and then appeared in every game from 2008 through 2010, rushing for more than 1,100 yards two years ago.
Williams now has the No. 2 spot on the depth chart in Baltimore, with only 54 carries for 230 yards through nine games. But he’s very happy with that.
“It’s been interesting,” Williams recently said, via DelawareOnline.com. “It’s been an adjustment for me, but I love the organization and I love my teammates so I’m having a good time. I’m enjoying myself. Anytime you play a team sport, the success of the team really makes everything better. It’s nice.”
Williams has no regrets about choosing the Ravens over the Lions, even though injuries in Detroit would have given him more opportunities in 2011.
“If I’d have gone to the Lions, I’d probably have a chance to touch the ball a little bit more,” Williams said. “But I liked the veteran leadership here and the opportunity this team had to go deep in the playoffs. Since I’m coming to the end of my career, I thought it would be nice to end it on a good team.”
Reduced touches could extend Williams’ career even deeper into his 30s. And it sounds like he has a home in Baltimore for as long as he wants it.
“Ricky’s played the role exactly that we would like for him to play,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a very good back. He’s run the ball hard, he’s broke tackles, made plays for us. Ricky’s a big part of what we’re doing, and I’m sure glad we got him.”
If Ray Rice gets hurt, the Ravens will need Ricky, too.