Since the moment news of Ricky Williams' retirement became public, columnists everywhere have taken their position on whether he was right or wrong and most have decided he was wrong for bailing out on the Dolphins so close to the start of training camp. That seems like an obvious conclusion, but is it that simple?

We raise the question because Williams' only public comments in the last few days have come courtesy of The Miami Herald columnist Dan LeBatard, who also happens to be a good friend of the enigmatic running back.

In a column that appeared Monday, LeBatard indicated that Williams had told many people that he had been contemplating retirement. The implication was that players and/or coaches were among that group of people he had confided in.

Also, an Internet column suggested a Dolphins assistant coach also know of the running back's mind-set about retiring before the stunning announcement last Friday.

So the big question is this: Did Williams properly alert the Dolphins he was thinking about retiring before he dropped the bombshell on Coach Dave Wannstedt Friday afternoon?

But there's also this question: If he had, then why didn't the Dolphins protect themselves in the offseason?

One glaring suggestion would have been for the Dolphins to select Oregon State's Stephen Jackson with the 19th overall pick in the draft instead of going with Vernon Carey, who might not even start this season?

Is it possible Williams told a Dolphins coach or two, and the thought was dismissed because Williams has always been such a strange bird.

Could the Dolphins be faulted for that if that were the case?

When so much of your offense is based on one guy, the answer has to be a resounding "yes."

There's a few reasons the Dolphins were able to get the immensely talented Williams in a trade, and one of them is that his peculiar behavior has always made him a guy that's tough to depend on over the long haul.

And the retirement certainly proved that.

Now, if Williams never gave any indication he could quit on the spot, it's difficult to blame the Dolphins and Ricky deserves to be trashed.

Quitting on your team a week before camp is lame, no matter how you slice it. Yes, he has to look out for No. 1 and do what's best for him, but any sense of loyalty and commitment (to his teammates, if not to the team) should have prevailed here.

In fairness to everyone, the proper way to do things if to alert your employers in advance if you're thinking about retiring.

It's not quite clear Williams did that.

If he didn't, shame on him.

If he did, shame on the Dolphins for not taking him seriously because now they are paying a dear price.

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