Ricky Williams, one of 26 running backs in NFL history to rush for more than 10,000 yards—and the only one on that list who took a year off to smoke weed study holistic medicine—retired today.
Williams won a Heisman Trophy at the University of Texas in 1998, and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints with the fifth overall pick in 1999 (then New Orleans coach and GM Mike Ditka famously traded every other Saints draft pick that year to acquire Williams). After three disappointing seasons in New Orleans, Williams was traded to the Dolphins where he promptly led the league in rushing and was an All Pro.
Two seasons into his stint in Miami, Williams retired abruptly in the summer of 2004, after failing multiple drug tests. Facing a four-game suspension, Williams walked away from the game and studied holistic medicine in California before rejoining the Dolphins in 2005. Having served his four-game suspension, he played the '05 season with the Dolphins before being suspended for the entire 2006 season after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy for a fourth time.
Williams played the 2006 season in the Canadian Football League before being reinstated in the NFL for a second time in 2007. He rushed for over 1,000 yards for the Dolphins in 2009 at age 32. He spent the past two years as a backup in Miami and Baltimore, respectively.
Known for his distinctive dreadlocks and offbeat interviews, Williams was one of the most idiosyncratic and interesting personalities the NFL has ever seen. He battled social anxiety disorder (he claimed marijuana alleviated the symptoms), but was also a fierce rusher and athlete. He'll be missed in the NFL; chances are, though, he won't miss the NFL.
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