At The University of Texas, Ricky Williams became one of the best running backs in college football history with 7,206 yards from scrimmage and 75 touchdowns. In 1998, he set 21 NCAA records, rushed for 2,124 yards and 27 touchdowns and won the Heisman Trophy with the greatest percentage of first-place votes in history.
Williams said he began smoking marijuana his senior season after breaking up with a girlfriend who began dating a quarterback on the team.
“I wouldn’t have won the Heisman without [marijuana],” Williams told Greg Bishop of SI.com.
But Williams, 44, isn’t in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his marijuana use.
The NFL suspended Williams five times in his NFL career for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He missed two full seasons.
As it was, Williams finished his 11-year NFL career with 10,009 rushing yards and 74 total touchdowns.
Williams told Bishop he believes he would have earned induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame had pro sports been more accepting and more understanding of marijuana. “But he rejects the notion that he should have sought only money and celebrity,” Bishop writes. “To him, a bust in Canton without the rest of what he calls ‘my path’ would have been an unfulfilled life. He says he would have ‘hated myself.’”
Williams has become an advocate of marijuana usage for professional athletes, recently defending track star Sha’Carri Richardson, who was suspended after testing positive for marijuana at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
He is working on his own strain of cannabis called “Highsmith.”