Player Profile: Ricky Williams
Arguably one of the most talented and colorful running backs in the National Football League (NFL), Ricky Williams has set records since he stepped foot on professional football turf first for the New Orleans Saints and more recently the Miami Dolphins. Hailing from San Diego, California, Williams showed promise as a baseball and football player. Out of high school, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted Williams in the eighth round of the 1995 baseball amateur draft. After bouncing around between Class ‘A’ level teams, Williams traveled to attend the University of Texas at Austin on a football scholarship. Ultimately winning the most coveted award in college sports, Williams took home the Heisman Trophy in 1998 after posting impressive numbers at UT. Over the years, he rushed for 6,279 and smashed 20 NCAA records. The Texas Tornado’s most impressive performance was during his senior campaign when he ran for seventy-two touchdowns on 1,011 carries. He also put up 927 yards catching the ball 85 times. This impressive performance caught the eye of many NFL teams and ultimately it was a gold and black jersey Williams wore for the New Orleans Saints as he went fifth in the 1999 NFL draft. Williams performed well during the three seasons he was in New Orleans, although the Saints record didn’t follow suit. He started all twelve games during his rookie year putting up 884 rushing yards for two scores and 28 catches for 172 yards. His sophomore season was also an effective one starting the first ten games before breaking his left ankle leaving him on the bench for the final six weeks. In the time he played, he rushed for 1,000 yards. Williams broke the 1,000-yardage mark again in his third season with the Saints before being traded to the Miami Dolphins for the 2002 season.
Williams put on his teal, orange and white uniform and stepped onto the Miami field for the 2002 season. He started all 16 games and rushed a remarkable 1,853 yards and ran it in for six 16 times becoming the first Dolphin to lead the NFL in rushing and breaking the highest single season record in rushing for the Phins. Williams’ performance in 2003 was also great speeding past his competition and breaking 1,000 yards again. But soon after, issues on and off the football field would get the best of Williams. In May 2004, the public was notified that Williams had tested positive for marijuana, which is against the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, benching him for four games and fining him a substantial amount of money. Days before training camp for the Fish, Williams announced that he would retire from professional football. One year later, Williams was itching to get back into the game and officially returned to his former team. After sitting out the four games in the 2005 season, he was still able to post a rushing mark of 743 yards, sharing time with Ronnie Brown. In 2006, Williams failed yet another drug test and was suspended from the league. During the 2006 season, Williams played for the Canadian Football League and the Toronto Argonauts. Although he suffered a broken bone, which limited him, Williams rushed for 526 yards in his 11 games. The NFL reinstated Williams in November 2007, and in his first game back, a tackle left his right pectoral muscle ripped requiring surgery and keeping Williams out for the rest of the season. But 2008 would show a new and improved Williams and Miami Dolphins.
2008 not only marked a new generation for Miami football, including a new head coach and staff, but it marked the first full season Williams would be back playing the way he had always been known for. Williams aided the Dolphins to the single-season turnaround record going from 1-15 to an impressive 11-5 record. He fell just short of the leader position for rushing with 659 yards and four scores. He started three games, but played in all 16 showing that he still has that Texas Tornado ability. In Williams’ seven seasons with the Dolphins, he has carried the ball for 7,112 yards placing him just behind Larry Csonka’s record for all-time rushing. He has posted several other impressive numbers and records during his NFL campaign and will look to do the same in the 2009 season. Look for his speed, agility, and aggressiveness on the field and watch him run with the rest of the Miami Dolphins all the way to the Super Bowl.