Ricky Williams suddenly retires

July 29, 2004, midnight | By Adith Sekaran | 16 years, 6 months ago

Early departure causes unrest in Miami

With most sports fans in Miami in a joyous mood over the arrival of Shaq, the most dominant force in the National Basketball Association, to the Heat, the retirement of Ricky Williams hit them like a freight train. Williams, the 27-year-old star running back for the Miami Dolphins, retired from the National Football League (NFL) after only five seasons.

Williams proved himself to be one of the top backs during his career, rushing for over 1000 yards each of the last four seasons. He was originally drafted with the fifth pick by the New Orleans Saints in 1999. Former coach Mike Ditka traded away eight picks to acquire the star running back out of the University of Texas.

At the University of Texas, Williams earned several awards including winning the Heisman, the annual award that goes to the best college football player in the nation. He was expected to have a tremendous career in the NFL.

Entering the NFL: Years with the Saints

When Ditka drafted Williams in 1999, the expectations surrounding Williams were enormous. Starting twelve games that season, Williams rushed for 884 yards in 253 attempts. These numbers were good, but not up to Williams's potential.

The next season Williams started 10 games but averaged a 100 yards a game to reach 1000 yards that season. However by the end of his second season in New Orleans, there were speculations that he was on his way out.

On draft day, these rumors started to solidify. With the twenty-third pick in the 2001 draft, the Saints picked Deuce McAllister, another star college running back out of Mississippi. Although Williams would have his best season that year, he knew he was on his way out of New Orleans. Williams started all 16 games and rushed for a career high 1245 yards on 313 attempts. He also recorded 60 receptions proving him to be a versatile offensive weapon.

The Saints, regardless, wanted to deal Williams with McAllister on the roster. There were several other teams that wanted Williams but he was traded to the Miami Dolphins. Miami gave up two first round draft picks for the rights to Williams.

Time with the Dolphins

The first year in Miami brought magnificent success for Williams. He rushed for 1853 yards on 383 attempts. Sports fans all over the country proclaimed Williams as one of the best running backs in the game. It appeared as if the Dolphins made a steal to acquire Williams.

The second season did not have the same success as the first one. However Williams was still a workhorse, starting in all sixteen games, carrying the ball nearly 400 times and gaining 1392 yards. Williams was also the second leading receiver on the team with 50 receptions.

Problems Brewing

Not many would have predicted that Williams' career would come to an end as it did. Even Dolphins head coach Dave Wannstedt was surprised upon hearing of this decision.

However, Williams has always been shy. Williams' first pro head coach, Mike Ditka, described Williams as an "introvert" to ESPN. On one occasion, Williams gave an interview with his helmet on.

Apparently, Williams did not enjoy his time in the pros. After he left, he said to a reporter "I'm finally free. I don't think I've ever felt this good."

Meanwhile, the Saints General Manager Randy Mueller who traded Williams to the Dolphins believes he foresaw something like this happening. In an article for ESPN Insider, Mueller wrote "As tremendous a player as Ricky Williams can be, it's exactly this type of out of the blue thinking—suddenly announcing his retirement from the NFL after just five seasons in the NFL – that factored into our decision to trade him to the Miami Dolphins for two first -round picks after the 2001 regular season."

Williams did not follow the stereotypical NFL player. He admitted using marijuana to the Miami Herald. Williams claimed that twice failing NFL drug tests and a potential $650,000 fine from the league did not have much of an impact on his decision to retire.

Another non-factor was money. Williams was set to earn $3.75 million next season, but Williams is already very wealthy.

Regardless, Williams really wanted to leave. He left all that money on the table and bought a one way ticket to somewhere in Asia. Traveling is nothing new for Williams either who once took a trip to Europe without notifying his team. According to Miami Herald columnist, Dan LeBatard, Williams does not have any definite plans for this trip but said "It's going to be fun."

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Adith Sekaran. Adith Sekaran is finally a senior at Blair. Adith is a man who is a big time sports fan and can spend any day to its' entirety watching sports or ESPN. Football season is his favorite, which he spends cheering on his ‘Skins to no … More »

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