The Ricky Williams retirement news was startling to everyone in and around the Dolphins. No exceptions. You want to knock Dave Wannstedt over with a feather? You could have done that Friday afternoon in Naples, the tiny resort town on the west coast of Florida.
Here is some insight to how he felt:
“I don’t want to do it anymore,” Williams told Le Batard. “That’s it. I don’t want to do this anymore. If people really care about me, that would be enough for them.”
Ricky being Ricky. When I woke to the news Sunday, I have to say my first thought (after, of course, “Wow!”) was: I’m always surprised that more NFL players don’t retire before their time.
Two reasons. One: Have you ever stood on the sidelines of an NFL game? I have. It’s positively scary. Grown men — big grown men, hopped-up big grown men — are running into each other, often head-on, at full speed. The sound and fury is about three times what you see on TV. Maybe the players who’ve done it for so long are immune to it, but let me tell you something, people — those are car wrecks that go on out there. Bruce Smith once told me his job on Sundays was a series of car accidents, and he had to steel himself to the fact that he was sacrificing X number of years off his life to make the lives of his extended family members (and himself, certainly) better.
Second reason: This may come as a shock to you, but not every football player loves football. Ricky Williams didn’t love the game. He liked it, sure. But love? Not Williams. He likes too many things in life to be in love with football. Traveling, photography, his kids, being alone. And after making $16 million or so in football over his five seasons, he knew he could do what he wanted to do. When you read this, I’m sure many of you are going to think, “What’s there not to like about playing a sport and making millions for a living?” Well, to most people, nothing. And to most football players, nothing. But it is physically and mentally demanding. It should not be a crime for a man to want to do other things with his life than play football. Which is why, other than his timing (which is a severe betrayal to his teammates and employers, the same betrayal Barry Sanders inflicted on the Lions six years ago, and enough for a Dolphin fan to hate the guy), this decision ought to be perfectly fine with anyone. It’s America. A guy can do what he wants.
So long buddy, Im pretty sure that anxiety issue he had played a roll into his choice.