Ricky Williams doesn’t believe there’s a link between concussions and brain damage

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Running back Ricky Williams touched the ball 2,773 times during his NFL career, absorbing plenty of physical contact, to every part of his body.  But as his career ends (even though some think he’ll be back), Williams dismisses the link between concussions and brain damage.

Which perhaps conclusively proves it.

Appearing on ESPN2’s Dan Le Betard Is Highly Questionable (the title of the show definitely is), Williams disputed the scientific conclusion that repeated blows to the head can cause Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy.

I don’t buy it,” Williams said, via Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports.  “I’m only speaking from my personal experience, because I haven’t allowed myself to buy it, and I haven’t been affected.  Yes, I’m aware that football is a rough sport, but instead of saying, ‘Oh — I’m doomed to brain trauma,” I said, ‘What can I do about it?’  And I just started taking care of my body.  I found people, places, and things that really helped me — again, I don’t know what’s going to happen to me in 10 years, but I look at the other things I’ve learned about, and the way I see the world.

“And to me, it’s like — okay, yes.  If we’re going to spend six months brutalizing our bodies, I said, ‘That makes sense.  I’m going to spend six months taking care of my body.  I started to equip myself with tools.  I started practicing yoga, and I started learning some hands-on healing stuff.  I found really good chiropractors and massage therapists, and I found that I was able to peel off layers of trauma on my body. I actually move better now than I did [when I played].”

The best news for the NFL is that Ricky, who played for the Saints, Dolphins, and Ravens, apparently won’t be joining the concussion lawsuits before the statute of limitations expires, assuming that the statute of limitations hasn’t already expired.

101 responses to “Ricky Williams doesn’t believe there’s a link between concussions and brain damage

  1. Consider the source. In this case he may not be effected by concussions, but rather his 1 year retirement after he was suspended 4 games for smokin the bud. They do say marijuana does lead to forgetfulness. It’s all coming together

  2. This guy is awesome, and always ran hard, he had a rough time with the fins but still put up yardage, you know the mary jane is part of his healing process, Ricky is the man!!

  3. Now there’s (Ricky) someone with creditability, a career pot head, you can take everything he says to the bank.

  4. Are you kidding Florio? Ricky Williams saying anything about someones brain is the complete opposite of expert testimony

  5. I get what Williams is saying- he wants to remain strong and positive, and not give in to the power of suggestion that he’s permanently defeated by the blows to the head.

    That’s worthy of applause, and I’d rather see a former player strive to make his post football life a better place and avoid the Seau / Duerson alternative.

  6. captainwisdom8888 says: lets all go ahead and pay attention to what ricky williams thinks. ABOUT ANYTHING. didnt even read this article

    Pay attention on learning how to write. Sentences start with capital letters, as do people’s first and last names.

  7. I’m sure the scientific community appreciates Ricky Williams’s input. It will be given the same weight as every other study that has a sample size of 1.

  8. “Did you ever look at a dollar bill, man? There’s some spooky stuff goin’ on on a dollar bill, man. I mean, and it’s green too!”

  9. The best news for the NFL is that Ricky, who played for the Saints, Dolphins, and Ravens, apparently won’t be joining the concussion lawsuits before the statute of limitations expires, assuming that the statute of limitations hasn’t already expired.

    A point of view so short-sighted that the NFL would doubtlessly be proud of it. The best news is that there could well be some validity to his point. Even more important, if the league would pay some attention, they may realize that a pro-active course of preventative therapy– combined with smarter helmet technology– is the best way to save the game from the looming specter of these concussion lawsuits.

    You’ll probably never eliminate concussions, but a rigorous and specific regimen of exercises to both strengthen musculature and maximize range of motion in the neck would be a good place to start. At some point, smart front offices are going to start offering workout bonuses for more than just cardio and lifting weights. They should be investing in their already highly-paid assets by getting not just some but most or all of them to do regular Pilates and yoga– not only are improved flexibility, balance and core strength very useful on the field, but they also improve a guy’s chances of staying on his feet and not getting his head bounced off the turf so much.

    Give them the best possible preventative care, looking at ALL available methods without prejudice. Get serious about researching helmet technology with concussion safety as the primary focus. Give them legit assurances of the top-quality post-career medical care they deserve. . . and negotiate a concussion waiver into standard contracts. It looks like at some point, it’s going to be a choice between that type of approach and flag football.

  10. I’m sure it doesn’t help things, but the data to establish causation does not exist. There are many things you can do to mitigate potential negative effects.

  11. Statistics show football players have longer life expectancy at this point, and lower suicide rates. Understanding head trauma and avoiding it are commendable, but there is a level of hysteria lately–largely due to Junior, obviously–that must be put in proper perspective.

    Ricky’s view is a tad too new age to hold a lot of water, but he’s probably, by accident, closer to the truth…than most of the “football is killing all the players” tone in a lot of stuff written by professional writers of late.

  12. Poor Ricky. His brain is so damaged that he doesn’t even realize how much of a total flake he is.

  13. This is your brain….the viewpoint expressed by Ricky, is your brain ON DRUGS!!!

  14. Ricky is using the same illogical and irrational excuses that evolution and climate change deniers rant about. The science is there. Learn about it and stop being lazy.

  15. Ricky.. Global warming…your thoughts? Cancer…any ideas? Those annoying labels on mattresses that we can’t remove or we go to jail ? Your view?

  16. Ricky has been a great ball player but I realize now that after all the “mary-jane” usage he’s too faded to figure out how to load bullets into a gun to harm himself……………..

  17. Okay, I hate all Raven players (literally), but come on. I see people saying things about pot use and brain damage(?), among other completely false things. It doesn’t cause damage of any kind. On the contrary, it has proven benefits. I credit marijuana to my father’s cancer recover. Say what you want. Just don’t believe everything you hear.

  18. I love how some of you people crucify a ricky williams whom none of you know…ahh what the heck thats what blogs are for lol..

    Anyway..players need to start wrapping up more with their head up football tackling 101..theres always gunna be head to head hits but pay me a couple million and a signing bonus ill play..these players should realize their hard work and talent and be privileged to play the greatest sport in the world..this generation summed up in one..GREED

  19. I really think that a lot of posters on PFT dont know the difference between marijuana and crystal meth. The guy smoked week….weed doesn’t cause permanent brain damage. I think you should stop reading the DEA Guide to Drugs and do some real research before you post asinine comments.

  20. I hate how everyone is bashing Ricky. I believe he actually received a doctorate in brain studies or something along that line of medicine in recent years. He makes a lot of valid points. I don’t agree with his choice of Mary J while playing football, but that has actually shown to reduce the affects of alzhiemers*. I know it’s not a concussion, but still, they both have to do with brain matter.I’m just saying, before you all start giving me thumbs down, he does have some good points in how to take care of your body with yoga and chiropractic therapy.

    Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. And whoever the dude was that commented without even reading the story, is full of it. You know darn good and well you read it or else you wouldn’t have taken the time to comment.

  21. There seem to be a lot of ignorant Nancy Raegan disciples posting who believe everything they read and hear. Pot causing brain damage? Please…


    Ricky’s thoughts on this subject are his own from his own personal experience which I imagine is a much more proper perspective than that of the people providing these narrow-minded criticisms.

    The strength of mind to not let yourself succumb to a certain way of thinking leading to a positive outcome is not something we can scientifically measure yet. As Ricky pointed out during the interview, an awful lot of what we thought of as scientific fact 10 years ago is proven to be terribly wrong today.

    Who is anyone to say he’s wrong?

  22. First let me say that 7thlombardiontheway hates all the Ravens’ players since they owned his geriatric team last year in a big way, actually two big ways.

    Second Ricky Williams is actually a pretty intelligent player, he is far more cerebral than Ben Rothlisberger claims to be anyways. Sure he may come across as a new age hippy, but he is a very deep and thoughtful person so I wouldn’t flat out dismiss him yet either, even though I don’t really agree with his views.

    Regardless it is nice to see a player not jump on the class action lawsuit bandwagon.

  23. Ricky don’t lose that number
    It’s the only one you own
    You might use it if you feel better
    When you get home

  24. I’m stunned at all the PFT love for Ricky Williams and smoking pot. WOW.

  25. Kinda funny (and sad) how the anti-marijuana guys on here are either against it because their preacher told them to be that way or else they are the people who drink alcohol excessively and act like fools at games and then drive their car off the road, occasionally killing someone.
    Wake up and smell the hypocrisy!

  26. Isn’t a concussion literally damaging your brain? The question isn’t whether it causes brain damage, it’s whether the damage is can become permanent.

  27. Every word out of his mouth is more evidence that there is a link between conussions and brain damage…..or is it a link between pot smoking and brain damage? I can’t remember. Pass the bong.

  28. Satute of limitation? Ha, there is no such thing. The lawyers are like nature; they will find a way. A lawyer I know pointed to the statue of liberty and said, “there she is, the statue of no limitations”.

    This is America baby, land of the lawyers. Of course they need a willing source of plaintiffs, but this is sports site so I will stop here.

  29. Ricky Williams was the biggest waste of talent I ever saw…and he still ran for over 10,000 yards.

    His 1883 yard season for the Dolphins was a top 10 performance at that time.

    I love how jackasses who can’t spell will readily make the pithy pot references and ignore the fact that this is a thoughtful and well-spoken football player as opposed to the number of NFL players who can’t properly form a sentence.

    You may not agree with what he says and that’s your right but bash someone worth bashing.

  30. bigtunna says:
    May 16, 2012 12:09 AM
    Are you kidding Florio? Ricky Williams saying anything about someones brain is the complete opposite of expert testimony


    Yeah, that was his point, hence him saying that Williams’ opinion that there’s no connection between concussions and brain damage is proof that there IS a connection.

  31. This from the man who once quoted “If you lay down with a lady, she’s gonna make a baby”

  32. The great thing about science as opposed to say religion is belief doesn’t play a role in this. I’m so glad science is not put to a popular vote.

  33. If you looked past the fact he smoked weed, he’s actually a very interesting guy. He takes care of his body more than most people, traveled all over the world, got a doctors degree, and actually speaks intelligent (most times). He also suffers from social anxiety which is a tough thing to deal with. And oh yeah, he was a pretty good rb too. Best of luck, Ricky.

  34. Pot doesn’t do brain damage . It hurts your lungs and motivation . Seeing he is a retired rb if he wanted to take the habit back up he wouldn’t be hurting himself at all .

    I find rasta Ricky refreshing because the opinions he has are his & he is smart enough to give articulation as why he feels like he does . He thinks . He doesn’t parrot like so many on this board that couldn’t possibly no what a day in the NFL could possibly be like .

    Run Ricky run !!

  35. Ricky also doesn’t believe there is a link between smoking weed and the munchies. Does he still thing the World is flat, too?

  36. The only thing I learned about this article, based upon the comment voting, is that a lot of readers here smoke a lot of pot. BTW: not so sure pilates, yoga, and/or massages will help after your brain bounces off the inside of your skull. All I heard Ricky saying is that his body feels great. Last I checked your brain was in your head…for most of us anyway.

  37. I guaranty 50% of the people posting on here bashing RW for his pot use are already into their first 6 pack of the day. Hypocrites. Stay strong Ricky and good luck with the comeback.

  38. Wait wait wait…

    “Ricky Williams doesn’t believe there’s a link between concussions and brain damage” is what Florio said.

    What Ricky said is that he spends time healing his mind and body from the punishment of football so that he’s not doomed to suffer.

    These are two TOTALLY different things.

    A big part of yoga is meditation, which is scientifically proven to reduce depression as well as assist healing other physical ailments.

    Considering Ricky has suffered from mental illnesses his opinion is extremely valuable.

    I really hate when people make a crazy headline sound like a quote.

  39. Honestly, I just clicked on the link so I can read everybody’s colorfull comments……

  40. Well, Ricky has a point. The actual “evidence” is quite inconclusive, but we’d all rather form our opinions off media sensationalism than examine the actual research, which has left me far from convinced.

  41. It sounds like he is just saying that he doesn’t buy brain trauma as a forgone conclusion. I admit I was al ready to insert my “Smoke another one Ricky” comment, but he’s right about a lot of what he said. These guys can greatly reduce their risk of long term post-football type of injuries if they make as big of a commitment to their health in the off-season, as they do to football in-season.

  42. Thank you, “bullcharger” for getting it right.

    A concussion is by definition brain damage. The only issue is whether, in a particular individual, it takes one concussion or many to cause a permanent organic impairment.

  43. Whenever Ricky speaks I have images of when the gang would get together and smoke in Eric Foreman’s basement on That ’70’s Show.

  44. How about some originality? How many times can you post “pothead” jokes and giggle to yourselves like you are a creative genius.

    Also, this story was posted on PFT, not the New England Journal of Medicine. So why come here, read the story and then post “who cares what Ricky says”?

  45. Love how ignorant people just lump marijuana in with all other drugs; basically these numbnuts are saying if you use marijuana, you’re automatically a criminal, a degenerate or an idiot, which isn’t necessarily the case. And don’t tell me that if one uses marijuana, they’re automatically a criminal b/c it’s against the law. That’s such a cop-out.

  46. Have any of you tools ever even smoked weed before? You act like he’s a heroin addict or something. It’s good that he’s trying all sorts of methods to remain healthy, post-career.

  47. Well, one thing’s for sure: the thumbs up and thumbs down sure do point to the level of drug usage in this crowd, as in “Deep, bro..deep.”


  48. Ricky has always been a very enigmatic person in my mind. There are data that would back up what Ricky is saying about the ability to “peel off the trauma” from one’s body.

  49. MVP…..you are wrong about no link between weed and the munchies. Why do you think it is used medicinally as an appetite stimulant for nauseated chemotherapy patients? Because studies have shown it increases appetite, or the munchies, if you like. On the other hand, the link between concussions and long term brain damage is far less clear in the medical literature.

  50. Hey, Ricky! How ’bout this. The next time you have a thought…….just let it go.

  51. @billhicks666

    of the nature of or involving crime.
    guilty of crime.
    Law . of or pertaining to crime or its punishment: a criminal proceeding.
    senseless; foolish: It’s criminal to waste so much good food.
    exorbitant; grossly overpriced: They charge absolutely criminal prices.

    ————————————————–Seems like the first four definitions for ciminal fit the description of pot smokers. But you’re Canadian so what do you know?

  52. Either the people giving the thumbs-up signs are members of the Ricky Forever Fan Club, they are stoners, or they are even worse diehard Ravens’ fans than I am.

    Can’t really be the latter because Ricky said he’d rather play for the Saints than the Ravens this season, if he were to come back at all. Go for it, Ricky!

  53. Actually don’t have a comment about this article…just reminded me of that song by Afroman “Because I Got High”…lol Such a funny song 🙂

  54. I find it humorous that because Ricky partook of Marijauna that anything he says should just be dismissed, and worse. Yet, so many of you worship Favre, and others* who were hooked on prescription painkillers.

    Like rush limbaugh, hah!

  55. I think more people are dismissing the idea that he does not see a connection / link between concussions and brain damage. It reminds people about tobacco companies denying links between smoking and cancer years ago. Then folks say more tongue in cheek things about the pot smoking. That’s my take on it anyway.

  56. Doing Yoga combined with tip toeing through the tulips, has success written all over it. What the hell, Ricky my boy. You should have left your helmet off your head.

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