Joe Theismann and Ricky Williams have several things
Both men have had bad experiences with drugs. In
Theismann’s case, his son was arrested for distribution of crack in 2002; he
understands the pain that drugs can bring to loved ones.
Both men played for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts at one
point in their respective careers.
And both men have screwed over the Miami Dolphins.
We know about Ricky. As for Theismann, he was drafted
by the Dolphins in the 4th round of the 1971 NFL Draft. Instead of
signing with the Dolphins he fled to the CFL, never to return to South Florida.
And so it seems strange that the old Redskin is taking
a sanctimonious view of Ricky’s latest gig.
Look, Theismann is no friend of the Miami Dolphins. That
aside, his recent comments regarding Ricky’s signing with the Argos doesn’t reflect well on his
understanding of the situation.
What’s best for the Dolphins, the Argos,
and Ricky Williams is Ricky’s gig with the Argos.
From a purely football
perspective, Ricky’s latest suspension is a big blow to the Dolphins. Without
Ricky they wouldn’t have had a winning record last season. The one year ban,
due to his fourth violation of the NFL’s drug policy, meant that Williams would
have been idle yet again, probably resigned to teaching yoga in California. His
ability to make yet another comeback would have been questionable.
Enter the Argos.
Their proposal to have Ricky play for them during his NFL suspension is truly a
get one of the best players in the game for a season and great publicity for
their team. If you didn’t know who the Toronto Argonauts are, you know them
now. Judging by the positive reception Ricky got in his first game for them,
their fans are happy he’s with them. Ownership and coaching are happy, too. Not
The Dolphins get to keep Ricky in football shape,
improving his chances of a successful 2007 return.
The risk of injury is Nick Saban’s biggest worry. Then
again, the Dolphins have very little to lose at this point as they have pretty
much taken the hit for acquiring Williams four years ago…steep as it has been.
Bottom line: Anything they get from Williams hence
forward is gravy.
As for Ricky, he gets money…$240,000 Canadian. It’s
not like he’s taking all the cash and blowing it on bling; he’s trying to do
the right thing in supporting his children under the given circumstances. He
could have turned into a deadbeat dad, as many others do. Instead, he’s trying
to live up to his financial responsibilities to his children and the Dolphins.
That’s the personal responsibility
side of this deal.
For those of you who think that Ricky should pay a
heavier price for his mistakes, as Theismann does, consider the penalty
Williams has already suffered just in terms of lost income. A pro football
player has a very finite window of opportunity to make money. It’s hard to know
just how much Ricky’s actions have cost him over the years in terms of salary,
bonus, and endorsements. It’s probably safe to say the number is in the
Ricky may not fully realize it (even now), but his
dreams, commitments, and habits cost money…big money. There will be a very hard
reality for him to face when his playing days are over and he reflects on the millions
he threw away, without a doubt the biggest consequence of his past decisions.
Nothing Williams can do will ever net him another
monster contract; he’s damaged goods and he knows it. It’s his fault he’s in
the mess he’s in. The best he can hope for now is continued support from Saban
and the relatively modest income he will receive for however much longer his
Never forget that Ricky is playing football now for
just one reason: money. He doesn’t love you and he doesn’t care if you love
him. He doesn’t love the pro game and doesn’t care if he ever wins a ring.
Quite frankly, if yoga instructors made hundreds of
thousands of dollars a year he’d be long retired by now.
This doesn’t make him a bad person. He just has
different priorities in life. To him, football is a necessity…a means to an
end. Ricky may be odd and irresponsible, but he is not evil.
That’s why the Argos
signed him. They know what Saban knows, that Ricky won’t be a locker room
problem and that he’ll train hard and play hard. He’ll also continue to submit
to drug testing. That’s all they can ask of any player.
As for the Dolphins, their agreement to allow Ricky to
play in Canada
speaks partly to an opportunity to keep Ricky the football player as sharp as
possible but also to their benevolence in helping Ricky the person.
Clearly, they didn’t have to agree to let him play. However,
unlike Theismann, Saban sees the bigger picture here.
Those of you that read my stuff know that I am not a
Ricky apologist. In the end, Ricky and the Argonauts is what I’d call ‘making
the best of a disappointing situation’.