Journalist recalls wild chase of Ricky Williams after 2004 retirement

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Kyle Crabbs
·3 min read
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The saga of former Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is not one that any fan of the team would soon forget. If you were old enough to recall the story, odds are the story will never leave your memory. Ricky Williams, two years after the Miami Dolphins traded the farm to acquire him, retired at the age of 27 and completely fell off the map. His retirement, which came in the eleventh hour before Dolphins training camp was set to get underway, blindsided the Dolphins and cast them into a tailspin. Dave Wannstedt’s team would start the year 1-8 before the head coach was fired.

There were few winners in this portion of the history between Williams and the Dolphins. Miami, after spending two 1st-round picks and change to acquire Williams, saw their star player disappear into thin air. The Dolphins were ill prepared for such a decision and the team fell apart. Jobs were lost. Investments sunk. Williams himself was struggling with his own personal demons and needed to escape the limelight and pressure of being a bell cow, franchise running back.

But one winner of the ordeal was clearly Chris Jones, the journalist formerly of Esquire. Jones went on social media yesterday to recall what came after Williams’ abrupt retirement: his sanctioned pursuit of Williams courtesy of his employer to go get Ricky’s side of the story. We’ll let you follow the chain of tweets attached below to read Jones’ recollection of a wild chase.

But if you want the abridged version, Jones got permission from Ricky to interview him — if he could find him. And Williams’ whereabouts at the time were considered completely unknown, resulting in a wild story akin to hunting for a needle in a haystack. It’s a fun read.

Ricky himself enjoyed the recollection of the hunt of the most mysterious man in football back in 2004; so much so that he invited Jones onto his podcast to relive the week they shared together after Jones managed to find Williams in Australia.

Perhaps the only thing more brilliant than the story of finding Williams after his retirement was the reclamation story. Ricky would return to football in 2005 and rush for 753 yards and 6 scores in 12 games — serving as one half of the backfield duo between he and Ronnie Brown that would define the Dolphins’ backfield for the rest of the decade. Then, of course, came yet another failed drug test and a full season suspension in 2006. 2007 yielded a torn pectoral muscle after just 6 carries as a 30-year old running back as a part of Miami’s miserable 1-15 campaign.

But then, miraculously, Williams bounced back for 2,453 rushing yards between 2008-2010 (including 1,121 & 11 touchdowns in 2009) in his first stretch of three consecutive seasons with 16 games played since 2001-2003. And after a 2011 stint with the Baltimore Ravens, Williams retired for good. With, somehow, over 10,000 career rushing yards; placing him 31st overall on the career rushing yardage list all-time to this day. That’s quite the feat when you consider he logged just 758 yards over 4 seasons from 2004-2007 in the physical prime of his career.

Cheers to Ricky and cheers to Chris Jones for providing Dolphins fans a fun distraction for an afternoon this offseason.