The redemption of Ricky Williams

By Adam Sweeney  |   Thursday, April 09, 2009  |  Comments( 2 )

Miami Dolphins
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If you were looking for the NFL's equivalent to a riddle, Ricky Williams might be a physical representation of that. We have seen him at his highest in Miami, leading the league in rushing with 1,853 yards, and we have watched him sink to the lowest of lows, retiring early after failing a drug test. What a long, strange trip it has been for Williams, one that even found him playing in the Canadian Football League for the Toronto Argonauts a couple years ago.

But Williams returned to Miami in 2007, thanks to the graciousness of the front office, and has embraced the role of the underdog. Maybe Williams prefers to do things the hard way. Whatever the case, Williams has matured, seems to be conquering his battle with social anxiety disorder and can now become the reliable player and person Miami thought it was getting when it acquired the runner from the New Orleans Saints earlier this decade.

Williams and lofty expectations have never gone hand in hand, although who could be expected to live up to what Mike Ditka gave up in the draft for him in 1999? What coach gives up all of his draft picks for one player? What's more, you can't take a player who responds poorly to criticism and put him with a coach who's not afraid to snap on his own.

Things appeared to look up for Williams when he originally came to Miami, but his life was spiraling out of control away from the field. When he finally did come back, it seemed like karma took a hit, as he suffered a torn pectoral muscle.

Unlike before, Williams didn't quit. He returned to the Dolphins and ran for 659 yards last season. His 4.1 yards per carry in '08 is the third best of his career. He's an excellent complement to Ronnie Brown's choppy style of rushing and for the first time of his career, Williams looks comfortable in his own skin.

No one will admit to being able to understand Williams, but he has shown a lot of heart in returning to the NFL. Some will look at Williams' career and see him as a disappointment, but that would be unfair; after all, every human being walks his or her own path. To see Williams' journey bring him back into the graces of the Dolphins -- more importantly, watching him learn to come to terms with his issues -- should count as a success.
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About Adam Sweeney

Adam Sweeney spent 4 years as an opinions and arts & entertainment columnist with the Lone Star Lutheran, also working with Sports Illustrated.com. Along with his work on Realfootball 365 he currently is a contributor for Film School Rejects, SLAM Online, Talkhoops.net, and C-Heads Magazine.
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