IT Blog: NFL Should 'Just Say No' to Ricky

Ricky Williams plays better on grass. But the opinion here is that the 1998 Heisman winner shouldn't play at all this season following published reports that he has -- again -- violated the NFL's drug policy.

Officials in the NFL's substance abuse program advised commissioner Roger Goodell to delay Ricky Williams' reinstatement after the former Longhorn failed a drug test last month, according to weekend reports. Williams wants to rejoin the Miami Dolphins following a one-year suspension for a previous violation of the drug policy. It doesn't take a crystal ball to determine that the Commish (who sent Adam 'Pacman' Jones packing in the suddenly image-conscious League) will not likely reinstate Williams who has played all of 12 NFL games since 2003.

Presumably, most Horn fans still care more for Williams than they do the reputation of the NFL. Either way, we should support a decision not to reinstate Williams this season.

Having said that, there is a certain amount of hypocrisy involved when pot smokers are treated like pariahs while binge-drinkers, relatively speaking, are appluaded. But keep in mind that the League suspended Williams in April 2006 following his fourth violation of the NFL drug policy. Players know the rules, and many are paid mega-millions as long as they don't violate them. What's more, Williams still owes the Dolphins' organization $8.6 million for breach of contract with his 11th hour decision in 2004 to trade professional football for professional yoga. Two years later, former Dolphins coach Nick Saban risked alienating his roster by going to bat for Williams following his fourth drug-related suspension.

The fact that Williams endeared himself to so many Longhorn fans during his record-setting collegiate career makes it difficult to advocate for his continued suspension. (Truth be told, Williams could probably still be elected mayor of Austin). But if the subject was, instead, a highly-paid, high-profile colleague whose contributions were critical to the success of your business, then the implications of a fifth failed drug test take on a different perspective. We then see the problem for what it sadly appears to be: a serious addiction. Given all that was at stake, given all the second chances, given the NFL's recent crackdown on questionable behavior, given all that Williams still owes, the reports that Williams still could not pass a drug test the very month he sought reinstatement indicate that the biggest obstacle he will face this year is not between the hashmarks but rather between the ears.

The clock is ticking on whatever may be left of Williams career. He turns 30 next Monday, and that renders the reports of another failed drug test ever more unsettling for those who would love to see Williams -- just once -- regain the punishing form that saw him shatter NCAA career rushing record in 1998. But this goes beyond our need to be entertained or to live vicariously through athletes. For Ricky, it needs to be personal.

I remember when current Texas QB Colt McCoy mentioned that he gave up soft drinks in the sixth grade ("I was up to a six-pack a day") just to prove to himself that he could do it. McCoy realized, as a middle-schooler, that the issue wasn't so much that he had soft drinks but rather soft drinks had him. He hasn't touchd a drop since.

Granted, there may be no comparing a narcotic with a Dr.Pepper. But Ricky Williams needs to prove to himself that he can do this: not just for the money but for reasons of his own personal integrity. Williams has less to prove on-the-field than he does off-the-field -- and that is where his energies need to be fully directed.

What do you think?

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