It wasn't that long ago that appearing in public was a major problem for Ricky Williams. But, thanks in part to medication, Williams has gotten a handle on the situation. And now, Williams actually is going out of his way to talk about social anxiety disorder.

Williams was in New York on Wednesday and talked about the disorder in a national forum on three different occasions.

He appeared on "The Today Show," then did an interview with Fox Sports Radio before speaking on a national conference call.

The interview with Fox Sports first focused on football and Williams' role with the Dolphins. It appeared to be concluding when Williams asked the hosts if he could continue talking. Williams then began discussing social anxiety disorder.

The conference call lasted an hour and also included therapist Janey Barnes, who first diagnosed Williams and has been working with him.

Williams garnered a lot of attention during his rookie season with the New Orleans Saints by conducting interviews while wearing his helmet. He was portrayed as being aloof and eccentric, with former teammate Billy Joe Tolliver even calling him "Ricky Weirdo."

Things got so bad that Williams said just leaving his house was difficult and he almost considered giving up football after the second of his two seasons in New Orleans.

But things got better as soon as Williams began seeing Barnes in February of 2001, and Williams said he's now a totally different person.

"I feel like I was one person and I became a totally different person," Williams said on the "Today Show." "Now I look into the mirror and I see my old self again."

Williams said the problem began surfacing after he left the University of Texas to join the New Orleans Saints. It didn't help that so much pressure was put on Williams after the Saints traded their entire 1999 draft for the change to grab the running back.

The helmet, Williams said, became his security blanket during interviews. Williams also rarely made eye contact, something Barnes noticed the first time she met Williams.

But the disorder affected Williams beyond the football field. He said he sometimes wouldn't go visit his mother because taking a plane meant he might have to run into some people.

"It got to the point where I would not leave my house because I was so afraid of situations where I actually had to talk to someone," Williams said. "Whether it was the grocery store, walking to my mailbox to get my mail ... anything. My life was football and coming home just to avoid situations."

Now that the problem is under control, Williams is hoping the public's perception of him will change, although he concedes he's not your average NFL player.

"I am different and unique," he said, "but not strange, eccentric or aloof."

Dolphins Report Top Stories