After 11 years in the NFL, Ravens RB Ricky Williams has informed Baltimore officials that he will be calling it quits. Williams' legacy will definitely be remembered for some ups and downs. Then Saints HC Mike Ditka traded all of New Orleans' 1999 picks and a first and third in the 2000 draft to move up to the No. 5 spot to select Williams out of the University of Texas. Who could forget the infamous photo on the cover of ESPN Magazine that showed Williams and Ditka in a mock wedding:
Williams wound up with two back-to-back 1000-yard seasons in 2000-2001 and was also one of the premiere pass-catching running backs, totaling 104 receptions in that span.
Unfortunately, Williams' stay in New Orleans was short lived after he was traded to the Dolphins for multiple picks, including two first rounders. He made the most out of his first year as a Dolphin, rushing for a whopping 1853 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. While his second year wasn't spectacular, he still put up 1723 total yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns.
That's when things started to fall apart.
After testing positive for marijuana in December of 2003 and facing a $650,000 fine and a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, Williams abruptly announced his retirement on August 2, 2004. What happened with Williams during his brief retirement was a lot of rumors and hearsay. He spent a lot of the time in India and seemed to be on some sort of spiritual quest.
Nevertheless, Williams returned to the NFL and the Dolphins on July 24, 2005. Now in a timeshare with Ronnie Brown, Williams averaged 4.4 yards a carry and averaged almost 62 rushing yards a game during the 2005 season. His return was short lived after testing positive in February of 2006 for what may have been some sort of herb Williams had taken during his holistic practices. This was revealed by Williams' mother after news had broke that Williams had tested positive for marijuana. After testing positive for a 4th time, Williams was suspended for the entire 2006 season.
After a brief stint in the CFL for the Toronto Argonauts, Williams returned to the NFL in 2007 and played for the Dolphins for 4 more seasons, gaining another 1000+ rushing yards in 2009. A free agent last year, Williams signed a two-year, $2.6 million contract to play for the Ravens in early August. Williams did well in the 2011 season behind Ray Rice, averaging 4.1 yards off 108 carries.
So what now for Williams? Well, his retirement might be short lived. In an interview with the Ravens' official website, Williams acknowledges that his retirement announcement might be a bit premature:
"The easy answer is I've moved on," said Williams, "but the one thing I've learned about myself is, 'Who the hell knows?'"
Whether he does stick around for another season, which I am sure the Ravens would love, there is no denying that Ricky Williams will go down as one of the most interesting and polarizing figure in NFL history.