Ricky Williams retired from football this year. This article mentions that he had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I had never heard that before.
Ricky Williams retires again, but this time with respect
Posted Tuesday, Feb. 07, 2012
By CLARENCE E. HILL JR.
So the long, strange trip that was Ricky Williams’ NFL career is over.
At first glance, it has left you wanting.
Neither the Hall of Fame nor mention as one of the league’s all-time greats are in his future after a career dotted with drug suspensions, early retirement and just weird behavior.
Once considered a joke, however, Williams, who played 11 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens, leaves the game with something some thought he would never get: respect.
Along the way he found himself, learned some things about life and possibly taught us that you must be true to yourself.
As for Williams, this is not the end but the beginning of the rest of his life, which will likely be even more fascinating and fulfilling than his football career.
On his Twitter account, Williams wrote: “Thank you all, but this ain’t it, I’m gonna do something really special. ‘Be you and change the world.'”
As part of a statement released Tuesday, he wrote:
“The NFL has been an amazing page in this chapter of my life. I pray that all successive adventures offer me the same potential for growth, success and most importantly, fun.”
Williams will always be revered at Texas, where he set the NCAA career rushing record, won the Heisman Trophy in 1998 and is a member of the school’s Mount Rushmore of football players along with Earl Campbell, Tommy Nobis and Vince Young.
“One thing I know for sure, Ricky accomplished a lot on the football field, but he aspires for even more in his career after football,” Texas coach Mack Brown said in a statement.
But so much more was expected of Williams in the NFL. Just ask Mike Ditka and the Saints, who traded away a whole draft for the rights to select Williams in 1999.
Ditka was later fired while a misunderstood and injured Williams largely was a bust in New Orleans.
But Williams seemed to be finally living up to expectations as a bona fide NFL superstar after being traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2002, rushing for 1,853 and 1,372 yards in consecutive years.
But just when we thought Williams had it all together, he was gone. He retired in 2004 because he was facing a suspension for violating the substance abuse program.
He was labeled as quitter and a disgrace for abandoning his team.
Even a return to the NFL in 2005 didn’t quiet the storm as he was soon gone again with another failed drug test that had him suspended for the entire 2006 season.
Williams has no regrets and admits the time away might have been the best thing for the life and career of a man who was too sensitive and too honest to fit our stereotype of a football player.
He was clinically diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, avoidance disorder and borderline personality disorder. He said he used marijuana as part of his therapy.
We later found out during an honest assessment of him in an ESPN documentary that he had his personal demons. He was abused by his father as a child, which also led to some of his failings as a father, husband and ultimately a teammate.
He also was found to be a spiritual person who didn’t fit the image of the human battering ram.
Williams returned to the Dolphins in 2007 after adhering to a strict regimen of drug tests. He says he no longer smokes and does yoga to cope.
He spent the past few seasons as a reliable backup and teammate. The time away had robbed him of stats, but it preserved his legs and gave him a new appreciation for the game.
Ravens teammate Ray Rice characterized him as a true professional whom he looked up to and admired.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he had the utmost respect for Williams and he would be missed.
Williams finished his underappreciated career with 10,009 yards rushing, more than Campbell and ranking 26th in NFL history.
Most of all, a career that was a deep personal struggle that hit rock bottom before he found himself ends by being regarded as a respected professional and wanting nothing.
Who wouldn’t want that?