The Ricky Williams Saga

Recently, there has been a bit of a buzz about Ricky Williams. Theismann called him a disgrace, a few have jumped on that bandwagon. Others have indicated that some team is going to be making a huge mistake when he is likely reinstated next year.

I’m here to say, no they aren’t. Ricky is going to be a cheap running back. And the fact is that his transgressions aren’t that bad. Nobody else seems to be saying so I am. On the list of bad things NFL players do: beat their wives, use steroids, rob people, wave guns in the air, run over old ladies, and not see people get stabbed at night clubs, get hit by stop signs outside night clubs, get shot in the ass in night clubs, and get hit by glass bottles in night clubs, getting high in your basement and watching the Flintstones I believe is very low on the collective mindset of football fans in the hierarchy of unforgivable deeds.

Can your average football fan really talk bad about a pothead such as Ricky Williams, when he spends his Sundays getting wasted first in the parking lot, and then inside the stadium? I don’t think so. I’m not saying Ricky’s doing right. He’s setting a poor example for the kids, and is an unreliable teammate. BUt it’s not like anybody is investing millions into this guy. He’s getting paid the significantly less money than T.J. Duckett, Musa Smith, and Marcel Shipp. The benefits outweigh the consequences.

I compare to a similar back in a similar situation, a very talented running back that had a great amount of difficulty abiding by the rules. That player is Lawrence Phillips, who dominated in NFL Europe and Canada, and had numerous opportunities in the NFL, but always managed to blow it somehow. If it wasn’t domestic abuse, it was him missing practices, or something that caused the coaching staff to lose faith in his commitment to play football. Ricky, however, is just smoking a lot. He goes to practice, he works hard, and he does his bit. He’s not throwing teammates under a bus like certain wide receivers and cornerbacks do in this league. Sure, he frustrates his teammates with his unreliability. But in Miami or whichever team he may land himself with in 2007 and beyond, nobody is investing too much money and too much value into him. He’s not going to be the starting running back. Nobody is that stupid to make Ricky Williams the sole component of their ground game. They’re going to find someone like a Ronnie Brown that can fill the void when Ricky messes up again. And he will. You don’t burn this many chances and opportunities to go straight, and then finally get clean. He’s going to mess up again. But it might be three or four years from now. And in that time period, you can get some excellent production from Mr. Williams, because he’s still a running back capable of putting up 1000+ yards in this league.

Should the Falcons be in the Ricky Williams sweepstakes in 2007? No. Would I personally mind Ricky Williams being on this football team? Not at all. He’d be great running behind our line, but unless we had a player like Dunn that is going to get the vast majority of the carries, then I don’t want to many eggs in Mr. Williams’s basket. Plus, I know he doesn’t pass the filter. I don’t think Blank and McKay are above taking on guys with questionable character, the sort of people that have something to prove that they aren’t the bad individuals that others perhaps have labeled them as. Jimmy Williams seems to be a good example of that. But Ricky Williams is another story. He is a “bad person.” Not as bad as some of those people that have committed some of those transgressions I listed above, but he’s still on the bad list. A guy that is and always will be on the cusp of being banned from the game. Because I’m assuming that after the one-year suspension, the next suspension is from the league itself. If I’m not wrong, that’s what happened to Barry Foster, who I hear is trying to get back into the game.

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Aaron Freeman
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