Former Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams was ordered Friday to repay the team more than $8.6 million for breaching his contract when he suddenly quit before training camp.
Arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled Friday that Williams must repay $8,616,353 in bonus money under the contract he left behind when he shocked the Dolphins and their fans with his sudden retirement. The contract ran through 2007.
“We are pleased that Mr. Bloch has confirmed that Ricky Williams breached his contract with the Dolphins and is required to repay compensation,” NFL senior vice president/general counsel Dennis Curran said.
“This decision is consistent with many other cases that have affirmed the right of NFL clubs and players to negotiate compensation based on the player’s fulfillment of the contract,” Curran said.
The Dolphins declined comment Friday, saying they only talk about players on their roster.
Williams’ agent, Leigh Steinberg, was out of the country, his office said. He didn’t immediately return a phone message left Friday.
The Dolphins had filed a grievance against Williams, asking an arbitrator to uphold their contractual right to recover the money paid to him between the signing bonus and incentives. Before the grievance, the Dolphins mailed a letter to Williams asking him to report or pay the money back.
Williams also called the team, telling them he would come back if he received a new contract. The Dolphins declined that request.
Williams has given many reasons why he called Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt days before workouts were to begin in July to tell him he was quitting. At different times, Williams has expressed displeasure with his contract, an excessive workload and new offensive coordinator Chris Foerster.
It was not immediately known what would happen if Williams declared bankruptcy or decided to return to the team.
But even if the 27-year-old Williams wanted to return, he faces a suspension for the entire 2004 season for violating the NFL drug policy. He has acknowledged testing positive for marijuana three times.