Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 Feb 2012

Ricky Williams to Retire?

Ricky Williams has reportedly told the Ravens he plans to retire. He was under contract for 2012 and had previously indicated he planned to play next season, but apparently changed his mind. This is not, of course, Ricky's first retirement, as he first walked away from the game after back-to-back seasons with at least 380 carries in 2002 and 2003 before returning. We'll see if this one sticks. Here's what he had to say on Twitter after the news broke:

Thank you all, but this ain't it, I'm gonna do something really special. "Be you and change the world"

Whatever else you want to say about Ricky, his presence did tend to make the NFL a more interesting place.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 07 Feb 2012

41 comments, Last at 16 Feb 2012, 2:41pm by ByTor


by Theo :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 3:14pm

I don't know the guy personally, but from what I've read and heard about him, I like the guy a whole lot.
It's too bad some people wanted to put a negative tag on him for being different.

by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 3:28pm

Agreed. I'm a big Ricky Williams fan. I'll miss his presence in the league. I hope he really does do something else awesome now, though. I fully believe he could.

by RickD :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 5:08pm

omigod he smoked pot!

Like approximately 75% of the NBA.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 5:15pm

He used to come into the video store I worked in all the time (in Kenner outside of New Orleans) when I was I teenager and he was ridiculously nice, but extremely shy. He would rent video games mainly and they were always games intended for, like, little kids - stuff like Kirby or whatever (I'm not a video game guy, so I don't actually remember what they were), colorful cartoon games about magic cupcakes and whatnot. He seemed way too gentle to play football.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 6:21pm

HA! Thats a great anecdote. You don't figure football players to be nice mellow and childish.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 5:28pm

Same here, he might've been obnoxious early on, but he changed after he came back from his suspension.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by ByTor (not verified) :: Thu, 02/16/2012 - 2:41pm

Dunno how he was as an adult, but my daughter went to HS with him, and evidently he was a bit of a preening ass. He'd sit behind her in a class, make a muscle in his arm, kiss it and then look at her and say, "You know you want it." That sort of thing.

by Drunkmonkey :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 3:32pm

I feel like he is somebody I wouldn't be surprised to see play by August. However, the difference between his pseudo-retirement in 2003 and now might have something to do with the 380+ carries he got the 2 years prior. Being overworked might make one think about your future.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 3:44pm

Want him to come back for one more toke

by nat :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 3:56pm

Taking a pot shot at him, are you?

by kbergstr (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 4:16pm

These comments are just a smoke screen to obscure his production.

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 5:34pm

He's finally blowing this joint? I'm surprised given that his football habit seemed chronic before.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 9:31pm

You guys are really in the weeds.

by BucNasty :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 1:24pm

The league won't be the same without Ricky on the grass, but I guess it was time for him to pass it to the next generation.

by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 2:10pm

There's no need to be so blunt about it.

by Whatev :: Sat, 02/11/2012 - 4:51am

Well, I don't think he'd make this decision half baked.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 5:34pm

not pot shot really. Buf am fan of him. Nothing wfing with a little weed action now and again

by BroncosGuyAgain :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 9:18pm

Ah, now it all makes sense.

by PaddyPat :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 2:37pm


by Mort (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 3:58pm

Frankly, I suspect it also has something to do with the Raven's cap situation. They are in a pretty tight spot already and they (presumably) want to get deals done for people like Rice and Lardarius Webb. Not to mention that there's been talk of sorting out an extension for Flacco.

(More in-depth: http://www.baltimorebeatdown.com/2012/1/30/2758933/a-look-at-the-ravens-...)

Ricky has a 2.725 million cap number. Between Rice, Vonte Leach, and Ricky, the Ravens are spending an awful lot for RBs. Baltimore is probably looking to either cut or restructure Ricky's deal.

He's 34, made a good chunk of change in his time, and definitely has some different priorities than the average baller to begin with. So taken all together, I see why he's looking to retire. I wish him the best.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 02/09/2012 - 9:52pm

Because Ricky is the sort of guy who's going to worry about the team's cap number? (Honestly, are there any guys beyond a handful of well-paid QBs who give a darn about their team's cap number?) He's under contract for 2012 so they couldn't force him to take a pay cut or restructure. If he still wanted to play, he would have just rode it out and forced them to either pay him, trade him, or cut him.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 4:34pm

I'll only believe he's retired when it's announced by Mike Ditka wearing a wig.

by Displaced Bolthead (not verified) :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 5:30pm

Never met the guy personally, but heard he's really nice and overly sensitive. Has something to do with a chemical imbalance or condition. It's nothing bad, just the person needs to be aware of it and it can be managed with medication. I know the last comment will get joked about, but it is a real medical condition despite the fact that some people try to use "alternative medicine" and "holistic methods" for (mostly) unsuccessful treatment.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 5:32pm

If being nice and overly sensitive is a chemical imbalance no wonder most people take some kind of medication... in order to imbalance themselves, I presume.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 6:05pm

yes. Ricky Williams have social anxiety disorder. May have startedd smoking trees forr that reason but woukd have to ask him to be sure abiut it

by Basilicus :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 6:25pm

I was surprised to find that he'd passed the 10,000-yards-rushing barrier. It's not exactly an elite line - he's the 26th player to do so - but it's not a stat I was expecting. Kudos to him; I've always been a fan.

by Anonymous0989 (not verified) :: Sat, 02/11/2012 - 6:46pm

Of course, only ordinary RB's reach 26th on the all-time rushing list.

You do know that the average RB only lasts about 3 years in the league, right?

To call Ricky's career anything other than excellent is doing him a disservice, regardless of the moodiness, sabbaticals, and suspensions. One only wonders how good he could have been if he had been able to handle the demands of being a professional better.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 8:29pm

Ricky was just a generation (and a bit more) too late. Had he played 30 years earlier, he'd be partying with Bill Lee.

by Mike B. In Va :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 12:21pm

It's always a good day when someone mentions The Spaceman!

by BroncosGuyAgain :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 9:17pm

I see no reason to doubt him this time around. The circumstances today versus 2004 could not be any different. His mental health issues of the time are well-documented, and he was essentially dragged back to the game by financial obligations. Neither motivation appears to be relevant now.

That Williams turned the page so dramatically -- from being a shy, socially anxious guy who just wanted to escape and find peace to a fully committed NFL player and stand-up teammate -- is astonishing. He is clearly more mature and mentally healthier than a decade ago but remains a really interesting cat with his own unusual yet alluring take on the world. As misguided and unfortunate as some of his previous choices were, this is, on the whole, a tremendous success story. Hats off.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/07/2012 - 9:34pm

Wish him well, and, selfishly, sorry to see him go. He's still a damned effective player.

by GMan1 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 12:48am

I echo everyone's sentiments about Ricky as well, but I do have one close friend who doesn't like him for a legitimate reason. As good a guy he is and as much as he has grown and matured both mentally and spiritually, he did quit on his team right before the 2004 season. I like Ricky and forgive him for it, but I can see why someone wouldn't like him for that reason.

by John (not verified) :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 12:49am

In strictly non-football terms, it's a shame the Colts took Edge over Ricky. He and Jim Irsay would have made quite a pair.

by Mystyc :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 3:40am

It was my understanding that he un-retired because he had debts he needed to pay off, not because he particularly wanted to play football. If he's solvent now, I'm not surprised he is finally getting out. Best of luck to you, Ricky.

by duh :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 3:45am

For one year he was as scary as any player I'd ever seen.I felt like he was a threat to take the ball all the way every time he touched it that year. (2002) A man with a different perspective on things I wish him well in his future.

by Dean :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 10:10am

I remember the message board thread here when he retired the first time. Ricky was CRUCIFIED*

My thoughts at the time were that it was his right to retire as he pleased, but that the timing of it, on the eve of camp, put him in the position of abandoning his teammates.

I've always been a fan of his, so I'm actually relieved to see that time has mellowed peoples attitudes towards him. I expected this thread to be much more harsh.

*around here I should add the disclaimer that he was crucified metaphorically.

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 02/08/2012 - 2:12pm

*around here I should add the disclaimer that he was crucified metaphorically.

Most players who are truly crucified after retirement don't have their careers resurrected. Who knows maybe Tebow will be the first.

by NFL Stadiums (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 12:38am

I'll always remember him as the guy that went to the Canadian Football League and made mad loot. How much was his one year contract? 270K? lol. Not a bad way to spend a year suspension from the NFL.
Great player, seems like yesterday that he was at Texas and still had the long braids.

by AnonymousBoob (not verified) :: Fri, 02/10/2012 - 3:54pm

Ricky's 30 for 30 portrait was fascinating. He is a complex man, full of selfishness yet completely loving, caring and engaging. He certainly was not put on this Earth to be famous, yet that's what his skills allow. He is a fascinating individual and I, for one, hope he does whatever makes him and his family happy.

by artmacuinn (not verified) :: Sun, 02/12/2012 - 1:43pm

I saw Run Ricky Run recently and was struck by how much it was really a story about him and his relationships with the people who love him. for all his problems ultimately he came out a better man and father, which is obviously far, far important than football. it was really interesting, and sometimes painful, to see how many in the insular world of football just could not understand how he could reject all the things they take for granted as measures of success. both of the ex-football players they talked to were supportive, Jim Brown especially, while every talking head w/the exception of Lebatard (who is much more thoughtful than a lot of those guys) were viciously critical. to hear absolute scum of the earth like Jay Mariotti (who has zero right to be lecturing anyone about morality) and Bayless just tear into him, or to hear Joe Theismann, who has never had a classy moment in his life, call Ricky classless, a disgrace...it turned my stomach a bit.

anyway, I've always been a big Ricky fan. I've had some of personal struggles similar to his and I respect him a lot for working to overcome them. I'm glad he was able to resurrect his football career, if only to redeem himself to fans and prove those who excoriated him wrong. I wish him + his family nothing but the best, and I've been moved to see how generally appreciative the reaction to his retirement has been.