Many questions remain

Ricky Williams finds himself in the news again after the reports of his violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, which would lead him subject to a one-year suspension. But there remain an awful lot of unanswered questions, the most obvious being Williams' status for the 2006 season.

The story began when a Denver television station, quoting a highly placed NFL source, reported the violation and the three South Florida daily newspapers confirmed the report, again citing sources.

Because of the confidentiality clause of the drug policy, you won't get a comment on this story from the Dolphins or the NFL and all developments -- until there's an official suspension -- will come from sources.

And that leads to various accounts of what's going on.

For example, ESPN.com on Monday reported that the violation involved a failed drug test, while profootballtalk.com reported that Williams simply missed a scheduled test.

The other issue to keep in mind is that Williams always can appeal, and one would think he definitely would do so in the event the violation indeed results from him missing a test.

The bottom line is that Williams is gone for 2006 if indeed he violated the policy again and an appeal is denied.

What that means to the Dolphins is they lose depth at running back. Or they lose the possibility of trading Williams, possibly for a draft pick.

The Denver Broncos, for example, were said to be exploring a trade for Williams and it's believed it was the Broncos' research into Williams that led to the TV station story.

If the report is true but Williams successfully appeals, the recent developments alone might be enough to scare away a potential suitor -- or at least drive down the asking price.

This, obviously, is not a good situation for the Dolphins one way or the other.

In a worst-case scenario, Williams violated the policy, doesn't appeal or loses an appeal and he's gone for 2006.

In a best-case scenario, everybody is wrong and the story is false. Or Williams successfully appeals and doesn't get suspended.

The Dolphins can only hope that what happened was that Williams, who is in India studying yoga, missed a scheduled test and will successfully appeal.

If that's the case, this would become a story that would disappear quickly enough. For now, though, there are too many unanswered questions with some damaging consequences.


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