On Tuesday, Ricky Williams announced that he was retiring for the second time in his career. The news was a surprise to the Ravens considering that he told the teams website just last week that he was "excited" to play next season.
So why the sudden change of heart? Apparently his former coach and mentor in the NFL Bill Parcells had a lot to do with it.
Williams told a radio station in Miami that a text message from his former mentor with the Miami Dolphins made him reconsider his career. Williams had texted Parcells first however.
"I was really excited to express to him how excited I was about football and about the way the season ended and how much I was looking forward to coming back, and his reply kind of shook me a little bit," Williams said of Parcells' text message. "He said, 'well, that's good to hear,' he said, 'you know, don't chase this thing too long. You can contribute in other ways.'"
Williams spent the bulk of his career in Miami, where Parcells was exec VP of football operations for three years. The two have stayed in close contact since Williams left for Baltimore last year and apparently the old man still carries some wait with the Ravens back up rusher. I'm sure he was just looking out for Williams' best interest but maybe he should choose his words a bit more carefully next time instead of tampering with a player on another team.
"I allowed myself to think if I could be doing anything in the world, what would I be doing?" Williams told WQAM in Miami. "And what came to mind is I'd be traveling a little bit, I'd be going to classes and I'd be going back to school... So I weighed what is it going to feel like to be on a football field next year and what is it going to feel like doing the things I want to do , and it just felt lighter, more expansive to be doing the things I want to do."
Playing as a backup to Ray Rice this year, Williams ran for 444 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also became the 26th player in NFL history to reach 10,000 yards rushing, reaching the plateau in the season finale at Cincinnati.
I'm not sure what it was that made Parcells say what he said to Williams but it definitely puts the Ravens in a tough spot. If I was John Harbaugh I wouldn't be too happy. With all of the things this team has to worry about this off-season, Parcells just gave them one more. Thanks a lot!
Editor's Note: Below is the official Press Release from the Baltimore Ravens on the Ricky Williams retirement announcement:
For Immediate Release
RB RICKY WILLIAMS RETIRES FROM NFL
RB Ricky Williams announced Tuesday that he is retiring from the NFL.
Williams, 34, recently completed his 11th NFL season and first with the Baltimore Ravens. He appeared in 147 career games (83 starts), posting 2,431 carries for 10,009 rushing yards and 66 touchdowns. The 5-10, 230-pounder added 342 receptions for 2,606 receiving yards and eight touchdowns during his career. Williams amassed five 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
"The NFL has been an amazing page in this chapter of my life," Williams said. "I pray that all successive adventures offer me the same potential for growth, success and most importantly, fun. I want to thank all my fans, teammates, coaches and supporters for the strength they've given me to overcome so much. I want to especially thank my family, coach Mack Brown, coach [Mike] Ditka, coach [Bill] Parcells, Ronnie Brown, Wilbert Montgomery and the Jamail Family for believing in me. As for what's next, I am excited about all the opportunities ahead – continuing my education, running The Ricky Williams Foundation and whatever other opportunities present themselves.
"My football career has been filled with many great memories going back to pee wee football with coach Tom Miller, [San Diego’s] Patrick Henry High School and coach Jerry Varner and on to the University of Texas. It has been a big part of my life and blessed me with so many wonderful opportunities and the chance to connect with many people who have helped me grow and mature. I will miss the game, the camaraderie, my teammates and especially the emotions of a big victory. I love the game and leave it feeling fulfilled, proud, in great health and excited about the future.
"I have to thank coach [John] Harbaugh and the Ravens organization for the opportunity they gave me this year. I had so much fun and really appreciated the chance to finish on such a great note."
Williams, who served as the Ravens’ primary backup running back in 2011, finished the year with 108 carries for 444 rushing yards and two touchdowns. In the regular season finale at Cincinnati, he became just the 26th player in NFL history to rush for 10,000 career yards.
"I was a big fan of Ricky before we were teammates, but being around him this year is the best thing that happened to me in my NFL career," Ravens RB Ray Rice stated. "As a young player, you need to be around a guy who knows what he is doing, and Ricky was tremendous to learn from. The way he took care of his body and the way he prepared, he always showed that he is a true professional. This past season with him is a year I will never forget. I had the best year with him beside me, and that was no accident. I believe that Ricky Williams is a Hall of Famer. All that he has done in his career, he deserves that. I was honored to share the field with him when he went over 10,000 yards. What an amazing accomplishment, as he is one of the best. I will miss him, but I wish him and his family well."
Prior to joining Baltimore, Williams spent seven seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2002-03, 2005, 2007-10). He finished his Dolphins career ranking second in franchise history in both rushing yards (6,436) and rushing touchdowns (48).
His most productive season came in 2002 when he won the NFL rushing title with 1,853 yards and finished with a Miami single-season franchise-record 16 rushing touchdowns. His 24 100-yard performances are also a Dolphins’ career record.
"Ricky is one of the most productive rushers in league history, and he was a tremendous asset to our team this past season," Ravens general manager/executive vice president Ozzie Newsome stated. "We enjoyed having him as a member of the Ravens, as his leadership, work ethic and commitment contributed to our success. We are grateful for his contributions, and we wish him nothing but the best going forward."
"Ricky, in his time here, made a valuable and lasting contribution," Harbaugh added. "I especially enjoyed getting to know him as a person, and I have the utmost respect for him. He was great to be around and to work with every single day. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
A 2002 Pro Bowler, Williams was selected by New Orleans in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft. He spent his first three seasons with the Saints, eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark in both 2000 and 2001, before being traded to Miami. He also spent one season with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts (2006) and did not play football in 2004.
Williams, who played collegiately at Texas, was the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner. During his career with the Longhorns, he set 44 school records and holds or shares 20 NCAA rushing records. He is currently second all time in NCAA history with 6,279 rushing yards (Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne – 6,397).