Williams Tells Dolphins He's Retiring
18 minutes ago
By STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer
MIAMI - Ricky Williams has decided to retire at the peak of his career, stunning the Miami Dolphins (news) and leaving them with an enormous void in their backfield one week before the start of training camp.
The 27-year-old Williams, who rushed for 3,225 yards in two seasons with the Dolphins, told them this week of his decision before leaving town, a team source told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday.
His retirement after just five NFL seasons caught the Dolphins by surprise. The news was first reported Sunday by The Miami Herald.
"You can't understand how free I feel," Williams told the Herald in a cell phone interview Saturday before boarding a plane in Hawaii and heading to Asia to begin several months of travel.
Long ambivalent about life in the sports spotlight, Williams said there's no chance he'll change his mind, and he plans to file his retirement papers with the NFL on Monday or Tuesday. He told coach Dave Wannstedt of his decision Friday and said Wannstedt tried to persuade him to reconsider.
Miami opens camp Friday.
Williams told the Herald marijuana tests he failed had a minor influence on his decision, but were only one of many factors. In May, three South Florida newspapers reported that Williams tested positive for marijuana and faced a fine of at least $650,000 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy for a second time since joining the Dolphins.
His attorney, Gary Ostrow, said there was no violation, and a ruling on Williams' appeal was pending.
Williams won the Heisman Trophy at Texas in 1998, and former New Orleans Saints (news) coach Mike Ditka used all of his draft picks to acquire the standout running back the following spring. Williams played three season for New Orleans but didn't blossom until he was dealt in 2002 for two first-round draft picks to the Dolphins.
It was the team's biggest trade since 1970, and at times it looked like a steal. Williams led the NFL in 2002 with 1,853 yards rushing and broke nine team records. Last season he ran for 1,372 yards despite little offensive support.
In some ways Williams' decision to retire in his prime was not a surprise, because he was never the stereotypical football player. His passions include shopping and photography, and in 2001 he was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, a condition contributing to his extreme shyness. While with the Saints, he often conducted interviews while wearing his helmet. He said he felt like a weirdo in New Orleans but professed to be happy during his two seasons with Miami.
The decision by Williams, who was to make about $3.5 million this season, is the latest setback in an abysmal offseason for the Dolphins. It started with a strange organizational reshuffling that included the hiring of former quarterback Dan Marino as vice president. He resigned 22 days later.
The Dolphins promoted running backs coach Joel Collier to offensive coordinator, but he later returned to his old job, citing health reasons. Tight end Randy McMichael was arrested following a domestic dispute, and Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Thomas underwent knee surgery that will force him to miss part of the exhibition season.
And now, due to the timing of Williams' retirement, the Dolphins head into training camp with few options for filling the position. Eddie George, who might have been a possibility, signed with the Dallas Cowboys (news) this week.
For the moment the job belongs to three-year backup Travis Minor, who has yet to start an NFL game.
Wannstedt was out of town Sunday morning and not immediately available for comment. Phone messages left with Dolphins general manager Rick Spielman and Williams' agent, Leigh Steinberg, weren't returned.