Run Ricky Run is must see TV

Ricky Williams has a lot to say.

His story, powerfully constructed in Run Ricky Runpart of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series — also says a lot about our coverage of athletes and our desire to reduce them to a soundbite or punchline.

I hope you DVR and watch the show yourself, but a few moments stick out:

After Williams’ first drug suspension, retirement, and soul-searching trip around the world, Williams returned to the Dolphins. He broke his shoulder in his first game back, then was suspended again.  The reaction was harsh.

Skip Bayless, on PTI: “He has never loved football!”

Jay Mariotti on Around the Horn: “Ricky Williams is a disgrace to humanity!”

The hour-long documentary showed how human Williams is.  His early struggles included a history of child abuse, and his social anxiety disorder coming out in New Orleans.  Williams is unfailingly honest, and the camera catches some personal and
even heartbreaking moments.  The movie didn’t shortchange his faults as a father and partner.  By the end, Williams achieved something closer to peace. 

Afters Williams’ last suspension, the NFL ordered he undergo six months of psychotherapy at McClean, a psychiatric hospital in Boston.  It seemed to do him a lot of good.

My brother has spent time at the same hospital, at least in part for the same diagnosis. (Borderline personality disorder.) It struck me then how Williams’ story is shared by so many. 

He underwent a long, deeply personal struggle, but this one played out on a national stage.  And like so many others, he had to lose everything, hit bottom, and even hurt the ones he loved before he could run to daylight.

83 responses to “Run Ricky Run is must see TV

  1. After watching it last night, I find it hard to believe he’s still in the league with all that crack he’s on. I was more disturbed by this than Mariah Carey’s hour long Cribs on MTV.

  2. Gregg,
    Your take on this is informative, fair, poignant, and personal–are you sure you meant for it to be read by the snarky vultures on THIS site?

  3. Wow, very impressed! This article just bumped PFT up 10 notches for me! Very refreshing!
    Now you are on notch 1.

  4. Watched it yesterday. It was interesting. The emphasized what we’ve all noticed the past 2 years. The guy is running as if he’s 25.

  5. Good post. It was a good piece on Williams, who is anything but a prototypical star athlete.

  6. The business that is Sports news has to sensationalize and criticize everything to make themselves relevant. Skip Bayless is the personification of blind negitivity for profit. This TMZ world that is evolving is sickening and PFT is right on the forefront. It seems every article refering to John Gruden on this site criticizes his positivity (albeit at times forced). Journalist hacks and who can’t say anything constructive have a much easier time saying/writing something negative. $$$ is killing real journalism.

  7. 2nd that. This was an absolutely fantastic program and quite eye opening on expectations of athletes

  8. I saw the documetary and it was very good! I know a lot of the critics of Ricky are feeling real stupid after they watched it and everyone of them should line up and apologize to him!

  9. As a lifelong Dolphin fan, I watched the show as soon as it aired. Yes, I was disappointed when Ricky left, as he did leave the Fins high (no pun intended) and dry. But for Mariotti and Bayless, and countless others to have made the type of comments they did, (and yes, I remember them and more making comments at the time), just goes to show that most people seem to shoot from the lip, and let their mouths override their brains. Just like Ireland’s question to Dez, maybe the talking heads, personnel guys and other executives should take a step back before flapping their gums. Nobody (media wise) knew what Ricky was going through, so to vilify him without a clear understanding just shows how shallow some of the media are. Ricky, I applaud you for your honesty and for fighting the fight that you have. Good luck not only this year in football, but also in life.

  10. Can anybody be “bums” or “slackers” or “slugs” anymore without having some clinical diagnosis attached to them? It’s ridiculous. What good does it do these people?
    These types change if, and when they are ready to. Ain’t no amount of therapy or drugs that will fix them.
    I’m only 41 and already I feel like a stranger in my own country. Mind boggline.

  11. I actually watched it last night. It was awesome. I always had the NFL induced image of Ricky Williams, that he was just another wannabe thug or pothead. In reality he seems to be intelligent and intuitive.

  12. I watched it yesterday. Really really good. Some of the statements made by some of the analyst on TV was ridiculous. The conclusions they jumped to were really cringe-worthy.

  13. I agree it is a must watch. Before I watched this I did not like Ricky. But, now I have a lot more respect for him. I think more famous people would fair better if they put their story out there like this, instead of hiring a PR firm and issuing press releases.

  14. legalize it.
    he shoulda just played in canada and avoided all this legistlation and haterism from non-smokers

  15. Skip Bayless, on PTI: “He has never loved football!”
    Jay Mariotti on Around the Horn: “Ricky Williams is a disgrace to humanity!”
    Probably the two biggest douchebags in sports media today.
    Thank you ESPN for putting these assholes that nobody cares about on TV. (By the way I have not seen PTI or Around the horn since 2004 and plan to keep it that way)

  16. I love Ricky, and I wish he would of never left the NFL. He was the best RB around this time playing for the Saints and then Miami.

  17. I caught this on last night, and I must say I have a lot more respect and admiration for Ricky Williams. He seemed like a space cadet at times, but his point of view on celebrity and how athletes are treated was extremely revealing and matter-of-fact spot on…

  18. I hope Ricky has been able to make the most of his treatment. Anxiety disorders are very difficult to just get through the day when your Joe Average; I can’t imagine how hard it is being a name player in the NFL.

  19. Skip Bayless and Jay Mariotti: Two of the biggest, most reactionary dopes in sports “reporting.” These clowns were getting stuffed into lockers by people like Ricky Williams in high school.

  20. I appreciate the fact he has mental problems, and I have absolutely no problem with the fact that he smokes pot..
    But to have three children, with three different women is criminal..
    It hurts the kids, the single mother, and society..
    /just sayin’

  21. I thought it was awesome. It shows that some athaleets are REAL people. I have gained much more respect than I already had for him.
    Makes the fact that he had over 1000 yards rushing last year even more incrediable.

  22. This was easily the best 30 for 30 so far and there have been some good ones. There is a reason a lot of people hate Skip Bayless and Jay Mariotti because they dont understand sometimes people do have a hard time in life and all the money in the world cant help them. People react different to things so to say Ricky should have reacted one way is just someone being ignorant. He even said it during the show “If I can get my head figured out, I could be the best player in the league”. This is completely true, he knew he had some demons and he needed help which he got. Im glad to see eh is back n the NFL and being very productive again. He could have been one of the best.

  23. Saw it last nite, it is a truly a must see! There are some parts of it, you almost cry, watching a grown man,wither away on a couch, covered in a blanket, letting himself go. He clutches that blanket as if he was a kid again, a security blanket—fast forward to today…The getting married on the beach to the women who stood by him for all of the crap he put her thru, truly remarkable…

  24. What struck me about the piece is that there were times, before his league-mandated “treatment,” where Ricky Williams made some absolutely brilliant observations about himself, people and life.
    If you can find medacity in your heart for this dude after seeing this documentary, you are deeply flawed.

  25. Skip Bayless and Jay Mariotti like to hear the sound of the own voices!
    That said, “Run Ricky Run” was really interesting. I came away from it thinking Ricky literally lives and thinks from moment to moment. There is no thought about the past or future with him just what’s happening right now.

  26. “Skip Bayless, on PTI: “He has never loved football!”
    Jay Mariotti on Around the Horn: “Ricky Williams is a disgrace to humanity!””
    Skip Bayless and Jay Mariotti are two of the biggest bumbling boobs who cover sports and two of the many reasons bspn is never on my tv anymore.
    Skip especially, the guy makes a piece of cardboard seem intelligent in comparison.

  27. It was great programming. I have always wondered what was going on in Ricky’s head and why he did the things he did back then. It all kind of makes sense after seeing the show last night.
    The next 30 for 30 should focus on another enigma at RB…Barry Sanders.

  28. “also says a lot about our coverage of athletes and our desire to reduce them to a soundbite or punchline.”
    kind of like what you and florio do on a regular basis……..right?

  29. # sabotslugs1214 says: April 28, 2010 4:30 PM
    McClean is just outside of Boston.
    Belmont with a branch in Brockton I believe (Yeah, I was born and raised in NE)

  30. As a Dolphins Fan I would love to see him finish his career in 2010′ Winning the Superbowl in his home state

  31. The ultimate “what if”.. With the league changing towards passing the ball more he may have been the last player to have a chance of being a legend running back like Jim, Walter, Barry, and Emmit I guess. He had the talent to break maybe even shatter every running record the NFL has.. Now running backs will have a hard time reaching these level’s due to lack of career length and the strategy of the game

  32. i didn’t like rosenthal until this post.
    I always thought there was more behind ricky’s story….it was a good piece, really shed some light on things.

  33. The show also had a really horrible quote from Joe Theisman, not mentioned in the article above. Just more of the same sanctimony from people who probably have their own skeletons.
    Interestingly, the show ended by saying that the Dolphins consider the matter of the signing bonus money owed to them to be an “internal matter”. Nevermind that the program pointed out that a large portion of that money was actually paid by the Saints.
    Who wants to bet they go after him for it? NFL is a business of chewing up and spitting out the very people they sell as products.
    Hopefully Ricky continues to find peace.

  34. Mariotti and Bayless are both idiots….. ESPN’s verison of Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh… They get paid to make comments to stir the fire. So anything they say should be taken with a grain of salt.
    And good for Ricky…. Seems like he found piece… Hope he keeps it and has a successful life after football.

  35. So the screening of players in the past was incomplete and missed signs like this. Is this why they now ask if your mom is a whore?
    I do have compassion for cats like this but in the real world, the strong will survive. Ricky Williams has proven to be strong regardless of his “limitations”.
    Smoke em if you got em!

  36. A bit of wanting to have their cake and eat it too at ESPN… they employ both Dip Bayless and Gay Fagiotti, yet run a doc on Ricky? Way to play both sides to your benefits Mr. Bigtime Sports Network… you disgust me! (But I’ll be watching Sportscenter as usual since FoxSports pretty much folded and was the only alternative)
    I love Ricky, always have, always will… and I haven’t even see this piece yet.

  37. The next 30 for 30 should focus on another enigma at RB…Barry Sanders.
    Barry Sanders and Marvin Harrison strike me as the oddest dudes in the history of the NFL..

  38. I am stunned by the lack of a critical eye for this documentary, particularly on this site. This was espn at the height of sensationalism. A brief period of introduction and build up, followed by 30 to 40 minutes of ratings grabbing footage that could have been sufficiently covered in 5-10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of Ricky acting like a responsible human being. No talk of rehab. Simply jumping from super human talent to excessive and redundant footage of Ricky defending his smoking by finding enlightenment/religion in his pot, followed by an extremely brief clip of Ricky being a good dad. Sure his lack of a dad is brought up with 1 incident and the suggestion of further abuse. What about the slow and/or fast fall from grace and any fight he put up to save himself? How about his rehab and the certain and intense difficulties he must have faced? Nope, just a half hour to forty minutes of Ricky talking like any pothead we’ve all met, followed by Ricky suddenly seeming clean(but never confirming it). Did this ‘documentary’ bring out anything other than the fact that he’s got numerous kids in numerous states and an abusive dad? It did have a solid half hour of great clips of Ricky, stoned, justifying and rationalizing his behavior though, and that is considered must see tv!!!!! I guess for anyone who doesn’t know any potheads, it was instructive as to how righteous and free and enlightened potheads are in comparison to the rest of us slaves to capitalism!!!

  39. I’ve been riding Ricky’s productivity in fantasy for the past few years now… getting him for pennies on the dollar and waiting for Ronnie, the broke down Hummer, Brown to go into the shop… happens every year.

  40. Skip Bayless, on PTI: “He has never loved football!”
    Jay Mariotti on Around the Horn: “Ricky Williams is a disgrace to humanity!”
    Bayless is a complete idiot and Mariotti is not far behind.
    The show was fantastic and should get an award. It is one of the best programs ever aired by ESPN. Ricky Williams is a very complex individual with exceptional football talent. I for one hope he continues to play at a high level (no pun intended) for many years and would like to see him set a new standard for clean living and holistic healing for athletes that will benefit all. I hope Ricky sticks around long enough to be the running back with the greatest number of yards gained in the NFL by any back from The University of Texas. Sorry Earl…..
    The only part of the show that I did not agree with is the subtle reference that he was not liked in New Orleans while he was with the Saints. I strongly disagree with that and I have the utmost respect for Ricky as a player and a person, albeit a complex person at that.

  41. I don’t think that anyone will argue the fact that Ricky may be clean now, but he is gonna smoke up daily after he retires. Not that theres anything wrong with that. There are worse things he could be doing, like raping people. lol.

  42. I thought it was great.
    The 30:30 for Allen Iverson almost made me cry.
    A lot of these athletes come from extremely difficult backgrounds. Its easy to overlook this when its on paper, but when you see pictures and hear interviews, it really hits home.

  43. Are you sure your brother wasn’t treated for a Napoleon complex?
    (I know, I’m an *sshole and hate myself for the joke, but its worth it to me)

  44. Honestly he isnt a model human being. But he definately has a great story, and it should really make then nfl think twice about how hard they crack down on their players about weed or other minor drugs.

  45. haven’t had a chance to see it yet. just wondering if this guys comments made the show,,, ya gotta put him up there with Bayless and Mariotti
    “I don’t ever want to be mentioned in the same breath as Ricky Williams as a football player. He’s a disgrace to the game. The man doesn’t deserve to play football. He should go on with his life and treat his drug addictions or go do whatever he wants to do. He’s been suspended from the National Football League on multiple occasions. Doesn’t anybody have any class anywhere? For gosh sakes, let the kid go do what he wants to do. He doesn’t want to play football,” Theismann, who is part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football announcing crew, said.

  46. Chiefs2010 says:
    “But to have three children, with three different women is criminal..
    It hurts the kids, the single mother, and society..”

    This has got to be the stupidest comment I’ve read all day. What a moron.

  47. @DanRooney
    He wasn’t on crack you moron. By the way I really thought this was an interesting documentary of one of the most puzzling players in recent memory. It was great to understand what Ricky was all about

  48. MONSTER says:
    April 28, 2010 4:46 PM
    “also says a lot about our coverage of athletes and our desire to reduce them to a soundbite or punchline.”
    kind of like what you and florio do on a regular basis……..right?
    Um, yeah. That’s why the quote you used says “our coverage of athletes and our desire to…”

  49. are both idiots….. ESPN’s verison of Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh
    I see you’ve never listened to Rush’s show.
    You always give yourselves away.

  50. Yea I was mad at Ricky when he first quit football. But now he is one of my favorite players and this film shows exactly why. Dolphin fans knew alot of this story (of course not all of it) already, it’s time the rest of the NFL found out. It was also cool to see how his “icon” status at UT was never questioned.
    PS. Mariotti and Bayless base their whole careers off knee-jerk reactions. Neither one has ever said anything of intelligence since working for ESPN. They are both totally useless and I feel bad for anyone who actually listens to the garbage that comes out of their mouths. I also lost a little respect for Theisman last night. I wasn’t aware of that ignorant, hateful rant until I saw this film.

  51. What an amazing documentary. I never had a problem with Ricky before, but honestly can say this has still changed my view of him for the better. This documentary is a perfect example of how the media can paint you anyway they want to. I am glad Ricky and ESPN have put this out, it should be a real eye-opener to many. I hope he can continue his path of personal growth, he is truly a great person and I wish him the best. I highly recommend this to everyone as I believe everyone has something to gain from watching this.

  52. Can anybody be “bums” or “slackers” or “slugs” anymore without having some clinical diagnosis attached to them?
    I’ve never had a dislike for Ricky, but you’re exactly right.
    Let’s just be responsible for ourselves and not seek out sterile terminology for it.

  53. I tevoed it during the cavs game last night and have been looking forward to it all day…glad to hear it’s as good as advertised.

  54. Totally agree,
    It made me a big fan of his.
    My second team is the Dolphins now.
    I was guilty of making fun of him for a long time due to his weed problems, I feel bad now that I know his real story. Of course he really was a huge stoner. I just like him more now

  55. Skip Clueless played what at what level? He is a complete moron who was so lame his mother was smart enough not to give him lunch money. Thus the invention of school credit. Thanks for your gift to mankind you poor excuse for a daughter.

  56. Ricky’s the best college running back of all time. It was one of the best & most memorable moments of football when he broke Dorsett’s record against Texas Gay&M.
    I am able to tolerate the dolphins because of him alone.
    thanks again Ricky. Hook ‘Em!

  57. To the moron (Chiefs2010) :
    Go tell those kids they are part of a (I assume social) crime on society.
    I Absolutely agree with VOF that that is one incredibly dumb thing to say.

  58. @Willard
    What exactly would you rather have had the documentary had in the one hour time slot? The reason why they focused so much on the time where he was down and out is that is because where most of his struggles were. Obviously the filmmaker couldn’t sit in with him during his 6 month stint in rehab.
    You missed the whole point of the documentary. Ricky is a pretty different dude, with some serious issues. His rationalizing is supposed to highlight the narcissistic/bipolar disorder that he has. But he is also a pretty compassionate and complex guy according to those closest to him, including teammates and friends.
    This is all contrasted by the fact that he is an absolute beast on the football field. Even with all the pounding he took, he still practices harder than most guys. This is all after he was foolish/brave enough to take on a contract that was merely tied to him actually earning it. How many players would do that nowadays? Meanwhile, the dude teaches yoga classes.
    But you missed all of this because you were ranting about “potheads and slaves to capitalism.” Whatever the hell that means.
    Great documentary. Good post on Rosenthal’s part.

  59. Can anybody be “bums” or “slackers” or “slugs” anymore without having some clinical diagnosis attached to them?
    That is just completely missing the point. I know plenty of bums and slackers. Hell I grew up with them, and still have a couple as friends. But those dudes are not Ricky.
    I mean did you actually see him in the documentary? He really is completely out there. Just like a straight up weird guy. Doesn’t mean hes a bad person, probably quite the opposite. Nor does it excuse him for the wake of damage he has left behind.
    But hes clearly got some issues that merited clinical diagnosis.

  60. His story, powerfully constructed in Run Ricky Run — part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series — also says a lot about our coverage of athletes and our desire to reduce them to a soundbite or punchline.
    I hope you adhere to your own words when you are covering Jamarcus Russell. Just like Ricky you don’t know what’s going on in his head..!

  61. The documentary didn’t make Williams look good at all
    It made him look weird, odd, and a drug addict

  62. Jay Mariotti’s mom should have said she had a headache.
    Jay Mariotti’s dad should have wrapped up

  63. i am fortunate to be married to a lady that has had family in the bills front office for 3 generations. i met t.o last year and he was way different than what we had expected. he was a really nice down to earth dude. we met ricky williams outside of miami by total chance a couple years back and he too was a very pleasant guy. these guys are so blasted by media types and fans that our opinion of them gets seriously distorted. just sayin….

  64. SJsports66, What I want, is for a documentary to actually provide new information. With the exception of the first and last 10 minutes or so of the show, we just saw clips of Ricky talking like every pothead I have ever known. Sure, some amount of that is not only good tv, but also very relevant, and the documentary would not be nearly as good if they cut that stuff out. But as usual, espn took this as an hour long opportunity to grab ratings without reporting. 10 minutes of clips of Ricky during his downtime would have accomplished precisely what 30 to 40 minutes of it did, and would have told the identical story. I don’t dislike Ricky, I dislike espn. The only things reported here were: 1. He started out great. 2. He quit football and became a full time pot smoker. 3. While smoking outrageous amounts of pot, he felt that the religious/scientific changes he was undergoing were an enlightenment that the rest of the judgmental world simply doesn’t understand. 4. His dad was abusive. 5. He’s a good person today. The only thing I learned is the stuff about his dad. That was the only newsflash here. But what other than a love for pot brought him down? What made him decide to clean up? How did he do it? Who influenced him? Since he felt his holistic world and religion are so enlightening and pot is such an integral part of them, what’s different today? Is he fully rehabilitated or does he still smoke in moderation? etc etc etc. But no, we saw 30 minutes of Ricky saying the identical things every pothead I’ve ever met constantly say. Alternative values VERSUS us slaves to capitalism ie. if I have weed, I don’t need money and material things….since you didn’t catch those references.

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