Ricky Williams doesn’t remorse quickly strolling away from soccer in 2004, simply two years after successful the NFL speeding title. He additionally would not remorse lacking all the 2006 season after violating the league’s substance-abuse coverage. Williams would not even remorse retiring a 12 months earlier than the Ravens — his third and closing NFL crew — received the Tremendous Bowl. As an alternative of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, Williams was really working as a cameraman when the Ravens defeated the 49ers in Tremendous Bowl XLVII.
If Williams does have one remorse from his curler coaster NFL profession, it’s that he didn’t retire as a member of the Dolphins, a sentiment he just lately shared throughout an look on The Greg Cote Present Podcast.
“I am not the type of individual that has many regrets,” mentioned Williams, who just lately launched his personal podcast. “I do have one remorse in my soccer profession, and it was that I did not end my profession as a Dolphin. It might have been nice to play my final 12 months [in Miami]. I in all probability would have performed a pair extra years if I stayed in Miami and I might have had the chance to grow to be the Dolphins’ all-time main rusher. I used to be perhaps solely 400 one thing yards away.”
Williams really completed simply 301 yards away from matching Corridor of Famer Larry Csonka because the Dolphins’ all-time speeding chief. Csonka, the Dolphins’ beginning fullback when Miami received back-to-back Tremendous Bowls within the early Seventies, temporally left Miami earlier than retiring as a Dolphin after the 1979 season. Williams needs he would have achieved the identical.
“That is one thing that is going to be arduous to reside down, that I did not end up in Miami,” Williams mentioned. “The Saints (Williams’ first NFL crew) have been nice, however I have a look at my profession as being a Miami Dolphin. The best way that I got here again, the way in which I used to be embraced by the followers, I will at all times love Dolphins followers and I will at all times bear in mind my time as a Dolphin.”
Many followers do not bear in mind, however Williams was on the precipice of greatness on the flip of the century. The 1998 Heisman Trophy winner who broke Tony Dorsett’s 22-year-old report as main school soccer’s profession speeding chief, Williams rushed for 1,000 yards in his second NFL season whereas serving to the Saints win their first-ever playoff sport. Williams rushed for over 1,200 yards in 2001 earlier than he was traded to Miami previous to the beginning of the 2002 season. That season, Williams earned his first All-Professional choice whereas main the NFL with 1,853 yards. The 5-foot-10, 226-pound Williams had a devastating mixture of energy, velocity and agility that allowed him to beat groups with each energy in addition to finesse.
Williams mentioned that there have been many various components that led to his abrupt retirement simply earlier than the beginning of the 2004 season. One issue was the truth that he was coming off what he described as a “horrible” 2003 season that noticed him lead the NFL in carries for a second straight 12 months. However in contrast to the 2002 season, when he received an NFL speeding title whereas averaging 4.8 yards per carry, Williams averaged simply 3.5 yards per carry in 2003, his worst common since his rookie season. Together with feeling like he had regressed for the primary time in his athletic profession, Williams grew uninterested in the Dolphins’ over-reliance on him. A part of that was the crew’s change at quarterback from Jay Fiedler to Brian Griese. Williams mentioned former Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt admitted as a lot when the 2 bumped into one another finally 12 months’s Tremendous Bowl.
“[Wannstedt] type of laughed and he mentioned, ‘You understand, I’ve discovered rather a lot. And one of many issues I discovered is the best way to belief my quarterback. While you performed, I did not belief my quarterback. And so, if he threw incomplete or a move that seemed prefer it was nearly intercepted, I might get on the headset and inform Norv [Turner], simply give it Ricky. Simply give it Ricky.’
“I had a bunch of carries in 2002, however I additionally had a bunch of yards. I had extra carries in 2003 however I had about 500 much less yards. That hurts. While you’re getting 25 carries a sport however you are getting 100 yards, it would not harm so unhealthy. You are getting 25 carries a sport and also you’re getting 50 yards, that hurts. These two-yard positive factors.”
After drawing the ire of Dolphins followers in 2004, Williams earned his approach again into Miami’s collective coronary heart with a late profession resurgence. In 2008, following a two-year span that noticed him play in only one NFL sport, Williams gained 819 all-purpose yards whereas serving to the Dolphins win the AFC East. A 12 months later, at age 32, Williams rushed for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns, his finest season since his abrupt retirement 5 years earlier. Williams loved one other productive season in Miami earlier than serving to Baltimore come inside a sport of the Tremendous Bowl in 2011. As an alternative of making an attempt to hold on for one final shot at a hoop, Williams determined to retire.
Whereas accidents, a suspension and his transient retirement minimize into his profession statistics, Williams was nonetheless in a position to retire with over 10,000 profession speeding yards, a milestone solely 30 different working backs have reached. Williams can also be solely considered one of three individuals (the opposite two being Tony Dorsett and DeAngelo Williams) to hurry for over 6,000 yards in each school and within the NFL. Williams additionally overcame social nervousness that turned tougher within the aftermath of his notorious journal cowl photograph with then Saints coach Mike Ditka carrying a marriage costume. Whereas it wasn’t humorous again then, Williams can chortle concerning the incident some twenty years later.
“I used to be in a limo with Coach Ditka (after the photograph shoot) going again to the coaching facility,” Williams recalled. “He had a cigar in his hand, and he was like, ‘I do not know what they did to get you to place that wedding ceremony costume on, however I by no means would have achieved that.’ I used to be pondering to myself, ‘Why are you telling me this now? Why did not you inform me this earlier than the photograph shoot?’ … . I am simply now, perhaps previously 5 years, actually beginning to reside that one down. I can have a look at it now and chortle and say this was humorous.”