Matured Ricky Williams at Peace With Role in Miami

Ricky Williams
Calvin Watkins Twitter

DAVIE, Fla. -- The massage therapist, who does yoga and battles temptations, stands outside the Dolphins practice bubble looking as relaxed as the sun.

Ricky Williams used to be a big deal around here.

His jersey sits in an enclosed glass case in the lobby of the Dolphins' complex. If you check the record books, Williams is second all-time in franchise history with 4,642 rushing yards -- right behind Larry Csonka. Williams leads the franchise with 20 100-yard games during his career. From 2000-2003, Williams rushed for 5,470 yards, second most in the league behind only Ahman Green.

But those days are long-gone now for the 32 year old running back.

Williams is cool with that. Cool with playing backup to Ronnie Brown. Cool with helping a Miami rushing attack that was 11th in the league last season.

If the Dolphins expect to return to the postseason in a gritty AFC East, they need players like Williams.

"I think Ricky knows what we think of him," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said to FanHouse. "Obviously we've done contract extensions the last couple of years, so I think he knows what we think of him, and we think an awful lot about him. That being said, his relationship with Ronnie Brown is outstanding and the two of them get along well, they understand how they need each other."

The Dolphins believe they need two running backs to win. Spend a few days here watching training camp and you can tell there is a combination of Brown's speed and Williams' power that this team uses.

"I fit in well here," Williams said to FanHouse. "I get to spell Ronnie sometimes and we're in the Wildcat, it's nice. I've found a good situation for myself."

Last season, Williams and Brown rushed for a combined 1,575 yards and 14 touchdowns. Miami might need a little more production from the running game, especially as teams become more familiar defending the Wildcat offense.

Williams said he likes the Wildcat because it gets more backs on the field. But just being on the field, period, is an important part of Williams' resurgence.

He retired from the game in August 2004 to study Ayurveda in Australia. He moved to California to study Yoga, then returned to the NFL in 2005, only to get suspended four games for substance abuse issues. He missed the entire 2006 NFL season with more drug problems, and wound up playing for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts

Miami let Williams, still under contract at the time, go play in the CFL with the understanding that he would rejoin the Dolphins when he was eligible again. The Dolphins keep bringing him back because Williams -- while still tempted by marijuana and gets tested multiple times a week -- can still run a little bit.

He played one game in 2007, then suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle at Pittsburgh. He returned last year and rushed 160 times for 659 yards with four touchdowns.

Williams even had a 100-yard game, rushing for 105 yards on 12 carries in a win over Seattle on Nov. 9. It was Williams' first 100-yard game since the end of the 2005 season.

He's come a long way from those days, when he sported those long locks under his helmet, and spent a lot of his time explaining himself to NFL officials. He now stands about 228 pounds with a nearly bald head, working on getting his license in massage therapy, still practicing yoga, and casually talks about his life and NFL career.

It'd be easy to parallel Williams' struggles to the rash of NFL players currently facing troubles of their own.

"It's different," he said. "I'm glad, I don't have to do any jail time. I haven't been convicted of any crime, so I've been fortunate that going through my difficulties, I still got to be free and explore a lot of different things that I wanted to do. I can look at my trials and tribulations and see they were meaningful. and they all helped me to become the person that I am today."

Williams went through things many people in college battle: the need to find themselves, the need to escape the world and look inward.

"I don't know if its about growing up or anything," Sparano said. "But I would have to say from Ricky's standpoint, he's been through a whole lot, and I think I do know he's a heck of a family guy."

To find this peace that's within, Williams had to leave the game he loves. Hide behind the drugs and the such.

Now, Williams is at peace.

"I'd say on the outside, things are difficult," Williams said. "But I still was able to enjoy myself when I was away from the game. It would have been hard to do that if I were behind bars. It would be a lot more difficult."

Matured Ricky Williams at Peace With Role in Miami originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Wed, 05 Aug 2009 13:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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