The Ricky Williams' Circus made its debut in Miami yesterday, complete with apologies, excuses and, believe it or not, an occasional smile.
How long that smile lasts may be another story.
It seems that rumors flying around South Beach have the formerly retired, three-time busted, pot smoking - holistic yoga instructor, who gained more than three-thousand yards in his two years with Miami, being showcased as trade bait during the Dolphins five preseason games.
"It's already dividing the locker room," one NFL General Manager told the New York Post. "Nobody wants him."
Quitting on your teammates one week before training camp opens is certainly not the best way to win friends. Returning a year later in a vain attempt to try and repay the court ordered $8.6 million breach of contract settlement doesn't help matters much either. Toss in the no-nonsense approach Dolphin's new head coach Nick Saban brings to the table and you've got a recipe for disaster.
Put whatever spin you want on Monday's return, the smiles, the cheers and the apologies are all great on the outside, but the fact remains that William's is on an extremely short leash, and unless the production overshadow the hassles, Rickie's days in Dade County may be numbered.
Based on NFL policy, Williams will be allowed to participate in the Dolphins training camp and all of Miami's preseason games, but then must serve his suspension during the first four regular-season games. The Dolphins bye comes in the fourth week of the season, which means that Williams can't return until week six, giving him just one regular season game before the league's official trading deadline.
"Being an NFL player, I had a problem with some of the rules," Williams told reporters. "I wasn't very comfortable with it, and I decided to walk away from it."
Apparently Williams is more comfortable with the rules now, and with an $8.6 million settlement hanging on his back, he's willing to put down the pipe and go back to work within the boundaries of the National Football League.
"I was looking at my future," he admitted. "Whether I wanted to go back to school or start a new job, I'd have that settlement chasing me."
Welcome to the "Ricky Williams Showcase".
It's not like the Arizona Cardinals don't have enough trouble just being the Arizona Cardinals, now they've got an outbreak of a viral infection to deal with, severe enough to force the team to move their training camp facilities from their Northern Arizona University facility in Flagstaff.
"Despite what have been extraordinary efforts on the part of everyone at NAU to accommodate our team, in the end, even the slightest risk of exposure was something we cannot chance," said Rod Graves, vice president of football operations.
It seems that last week, more than 100 people attending summer camps at the university contracted the highly contagious norovirus, a non-life threatening illness that causes flu-like symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
Not being unsympathetic, but aren't those some of the same symptoms Cardinals season ticket holders deal with on a weekly basis throughout the entire NFL season?
No word yet on exactly where the Cardinals official camp will be held, but an announcement is expected sometime Tuesday, according to team officials.
One potential site for a viral-free camp is Prescott, midway between Phoenix and Flagstaff, where the Cardinals worked out for one week last year and are currently scheduled to practice from Aug. 24-26.
Show Me the Money –
Quarterback Alex Smith, who left Utah after his junior year to become the top overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, became a very wealthy man on Monday, agreeing on a six-year, $57 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco, who finished a dismal 2-14 last season, guarantee $24 million of the contract, which is $4 million more than the guarantee that Eli Manning received from the New York Giants as their first pick in 2004.
Not a bad paycheck for a quarterback who led the Utes to their first BCS Bowl Victory, completed 185 of 280 passes for 2,624 yards with 28 touchdowns and finished fourth in this years' Heisman Trophy voting.
Now comes the question - can a $57 million rookie quarterback revive a franchise who's receiving group has to struggle just to be considered mediocre?
Don't hold your breath.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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