Ricky Williams talks about career, new position

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RICKY WILLIAMS

Football enigma Ricky Williams will be making a return to the gridiron for the 2013 season….sort of.

This fall he will be joining the Longhorn Network as a pre-game analyst for The Longhorn Network and he will be working as a part-time coach at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.

“I’m excited to be an analyst. It’s good to talk about football again,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to it and it’ll be good to be back.”

Born Errick Lynne “Ricky” Williams, Jr., the former American football running back played 11 seasons in the NFL and one season in the Canadian Football League after following a stellar college sports career.

After he was recruited to the University of Texas, the San Diego native joined the Texas Longhorn football team from 1995 to 1998 and became a two-time All American at the school. The Texas Tornado shattered or tied numerous long-standing records, holds or shares 20 NCAA records, and won the coveted Heisman Trophy.

His spectacular accolades in college caught the attention of the National Football League. Williams became the fifth pick in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the-then New Orleans Saints head coach, Western Pennsylvania native, Mike Ditka.

Ditka believed so firmly in Williams’ abilities to be able to turn the failing Saint’s franchise around that he traded all of the Saints’ 1999 draft picks to the Washington Red Skins to secure Williams. Later that year, he and Ditka posed on the cover of ESPN The Magazine as a bride and groom.

No Limit Sports headed by music mogul Master P a.ka. Percy Miller negotiated Williams’ contract. The document was incentive driven and Williams received an $8 million signing bonus with salary incentives that ranged from $11 million to $68 million if all of the incentives—albeit impossible to reach—were attained. Williams fired  No Limit Sports.

Williams managed two 1,000 yard seasons in 2000 and 2001 and in the year 2000 he rushed for 1000 yards and scored nine touchdowns in 10 games. He missed the Saints’ last six games and the playoffs because of an injury. The Saints finished their 2000 regular season with a 10-6 record and won the franchise’s first playoff game against the St. Louis Rams.

Williams’ most successful time with the New Orleans Saints came in 2001 when he rushed 1,245 yards and caught 60 passes for 511 rushing yards.

Still, it wasn’t enough to resurrect the New Orleans Saints dismal record. Ditka was fired for the Saints’  somber performance.

“I was a high-level athlete and I was honored that Ditka picked me. I thought I deserved it and I thought I should have been the first pick,” Williams said.

Although he felt blessed to be chosen by the New Orleans Saints, Williams found NFL football a totally different animal than college ball.

“At the University of Texas they cared about the players and at the NFL I felt like a piece of meat,” Williams explained. “People worship athletes but they don’t get up to achieve what the athletes achieve on the field.”

After spending three years with the Saints, Williams was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2002 for four draft picks, including two first-round draft picks.

During his first season with Dolphins, Williams was the league’s leading rusher with 1,853 yards, a First Team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler. At the end of 2003, Williams tested positive for marijuana use and was slapped with a $650,000 fine and a four-game suspension because he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Before the start of training camp in 2004, Williams announced his subsequent retirement from professional football. He was ineligible to play for the 2004 season and thus enrolled at the California College of Ayurveda and traveled abroad to such places as India to study the holistic medicine.

“I had never practiced yoga before,” explained Williams who became a professional yoga instructor in 2005 and a licensed massage therapist. “With yoga the physical stuff like my shoulder and knee pain disappeared.” The Dolphins finished the 2004 season with a 4-12 record.

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