Tuesday, July 05, 2005

An ‘on-line’ chat with Ricky Williams

In an unprecedented move with regards to recent sports history, Ricky Williams retired, and is now coming back.

Okay, so maybe that HAS been done before. But the circumstances involving Williams’ sudden retirement in particular are truly original in nature. For example, everyone in the NFL soon discovered that the Miami Dolphins’ Plan B following Williams’ departure consisted of just punting on first down to get it over with. Following the 2004 disaster, then head coach Dave Wannstedt has since been replaced by Nick Saban (who doesn’t have a similar one-sided moustache, but may be a better coach), and Williams himself will apply for reinstatement into the league at the end of the month, on the same exact day that he sent in his retirement papers last year, thus paying homage to one of the strangest moments in sports history, not counting Wannstedt’s moustache.

I caught up with Williams’ recently on line at a local 7-Eleven. At least I think it was him. He had a Ricky Williams’ jersey on, and that was all the proof I needed, since I figured that everyone else who had previously owned one had tossed it into a bonfire of sorts. He graciously granted me this on-the-spot interview, but asked me to not print it. Then I said that HE once promised the Dolphins he would play football, and we both had a good laugh. Anyway, here it is.

Me: Hey – You’re not getting rolling papers, are you?

RW: Ha. Ha. Very funny. No, I came here to get my pizza-flavored Combos, and be out.

Me: That’s cool. I’m just waiting for them to reheat the Cheese Whiz. But while we’re here, let me ask you – how does it feel to be considered the most mentally unstable athlete in sports, including Ron Artest?

RW: It doesn’t really bother me. People may mistake my actions for insanity, but I know how I was feeling at the time, and walking away from the game was the right thing to do.

Me: (Tilting my head sideways, with eyebrows raised.)

RW: Really, man. No joke.

Me: (Still tilting)

RW: Okay, fine! I messed up. I should have just taken the four-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana for a third time, and then came back to finish the season. I would have saved myself a lot of flack, and a boatload of money. But in all honesty, the time off was good for me. It really helped me to clear my head.

Me: Of smoke?

RW: Yeah, I guess. And other things too, like reruns of Looney Tunes. I used to just come home from practice, light up, and watch cartoons for like 12 hours straight. Daffy Duck is crazy, man. I’m telling you – crazy. When Wannstedt used to talk to me on the sidelines, I would just see these huge duck-billed lips, and he’d be quacking away about some formation or something. It was crazy.

Me: Why did you travel to India and live off the land like a weirdo?

RW: I don’t know. I guess I just needed to get away from it all. In Miami, those people are nuts about the Dolphins. Just nuts. They wake up, and they’re like, “Hey - what happened with the Dolphins while I was sleeping?” And it’s March. And I’m like, “Nothing happened, you idiot. It’s not even the season yet. Go back to sleep.” So when I retired, I actually feared for my life. It was kind of ironic though, because so many people GO to Florida to retire, but I was leaving to retire, because people were trying to kill me.

Me: I’m going to be honest with you – I don’t care at all about what you did to the Dolphins. I’m a Giants’ fan from Jersey. Actually, I thought it was kind of funny. But seriously – from a fantasy football standpoint, what am I supposed to do with you? Should I pick you up? Because if I pick you in the draft, and you retire again, I will hunt you down and pour hot Cheese Whiz all over your head. Even if I have to go to India. It costs me $25 to join this league every year, and I’m not about to waste a pick.

RW: Naw, you can go ahead and select me. I won’t let you down.

Me: Speaking of letting others down, how have your teammates reacted to your application for reinstatement?

RW: When I first walked back into the locker room, there was a cardboard cutout of my face on Cheech Marin’s body, with a word bubble that said, “Don’t worry - you guys will be fine. You have Travis Minor! If anyone needs me, I’ll be in India.” And my face had knives stuck in it. So that was kind of awkward. But I think they’ll start warming up to me again after I get into the end zone a few times.

Me: Do you think the fans will ever accept you again?

RW: Well, that depends. JETS’ fans love me. They’re always offering me weed, and telling me that I made a great decision. But if you’re talking about DOLPHINS’ fans, then no. I don’t think they’ll ever accept me, but that’s okay. I’m here to play football, not to run for mayor.

Me: If you were the mayor, would you legalize marijuana?

RW: I’m not sure that mayors have the authority to do that. But to answer your question, yes.

Me: Hey – you’re next. The cashier is waiting for you. But before you go, tell me – how are you getting along with the new coach?

RW: Who do you mean? Oh – Daffy? He’s cool.

Me: On second thought, maybe I won’t pick you up in the fantasy draft.

RW: Whatever.

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