Williams: Dolphins 'maybe better off without me'
DAN LE BATARD
I am not wrong.
I am not right.
You are not wrong.
Ricky Williams is not right.
Ricky Williams is not wrong.
This is a pretty subjective thing we're dealing with here. Can we agree on that much, at least, even as we disagree about everything else? You can think what Williams did by retiring is insane, stupid, selfish, cowardly. That's fine. You can think what Williams did is noble, courageous, inspiring, unique.
That's fine, too.
But life isn't nearly as clear as a scoreboard. Unlike so much else in sports, there are no helpful numbers here to tell us which side wins this inflamed debate, no matter how hard sports radio tries to dumb down the discussion with all its head-butts and butt-heads.
This much, though, is not up for dispute: Williams, so very tired of being judged and not caring at all what you think, got on a flight to Asia and left us all alone with our judgments.
''Has it blown over yet?'' he asked by cellphone Monday afternoon.
Um, no, Ricky. Not exactly. Must be nice to be in your own world.
''It's great,'' he said, having returned from Tokyo and now bouncing around the United States with rocker Lenny Kravitz. ``Everybody I've talked to back home says they are scared for me, and I have to laugh every time. I've got people picking up the phone and crying because of all the criticism I'm getting, saying that they have to turn off their televisions. But you have to let all that stuff go. Any time you stand for what you believe in, you are going to get criticized.''
He says he won't be doing any interviews with any sports television outlets or publications because he feels no need to explain himself anymore, to anyone, ever, but that he might eventually consider something on a lifestyle channel if it makes sense.
''So I don't have to talk about football and can talk about the importance of being true to yourself,'' he said.
LOOKING OUT FOR RICKY
The biggest criticism Williams keeps getting is that the timing was terrible (it was) and that his motives were selfish (they were). Williams is selfish. He'd tell you so himself. He's supposed to keep being miserable confined to football just so the rest of us can be happy? That would be pretty extraordinarily unselfish. He's a running back, not Gandhi.
He is certainly guilty of putting his own needs before those of his teammates. Just like Dave Wannstedt was guilty of putting his own needs ahead of Williams' by playing him in a meaningless game last season against the Jets to help save his job. You want more loyalty to ''team'' from him? Where was the team's loyalty when it ran this town's favorite son, Dan Marino, right into retirement even though he didn't want to quit?
'This was selfish, but I don't think of `selfish' as an insult,'' Williams said. ``The only way to make others happy is to make yourself happy. Your happiness depends on how you take care of yourself. I'm taking care of myself now. In the end, the only person who makes you happy is yourself.''
And the timing? Williams doesn't care what you think of the timing. He's done living by anyone else's schedule.
''Maybe it was perfect timing,'' he said. ``You don't know. Travis [Minor] is cheaper, quicker, faster than me. Maybe they'll be better off without me because now they can play real football. What we were doing, handing the ball to me every time, wasn't real football. And it wasn't successful, obviously. We didn't even get to the playoffs with me there. Now they can do something different, and see if they're good at that.
``But who can judge this now? How can we possibly know if this is bad? You can't know the end result until you've seen the end result. This is basic logic. After the end result, then you can say I [screwed] everything up. But wait for the result.''
The person whom Williams says he feels worst for is running backs coach Joel Collier, because they had developed a bond.
There have been some creative ideas floated about how to lure him back for a single season, including having the NFL and the Dolphins donate millions to inner-city schools, but Williams said he isn't making decisions based on money any longer, not even if that money goes to the right places.
''I can't even picture myself ever putting on a uniform again,'' he said. ``I'm not wavering on this. People keep trying to talk me out of it, but then they see how serious I am about it, and that muscle shuts off.''
BATTERED AND BRUISED
He should tough it out for the team? Well, that's easy to say when you don't have to feel what he does Monday mornings. There's a reason the most famous athletes who retire healthy and in their prime -- Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Robert Smith and now Williams -- all seem to play the same position. If you are going to be a running back at the center of a savage game, you had better have passion to endure the punishment.
''I applaud him,'' Jim Brown, his friend, said from his South Beach apartment Monday afternoon. ``You can't be a free thinker if you only think the way everyone else does. Ricky is going to other worlds to study other cultures. Our own president doesn't even care about other cultures.''
Williams hasn't talked to many of his teammates, but he heard about the critical comments of center Seth McKinney, who called him a quitter.
''I owe Seth an explanation? That guy owes me,'' Williams joked. ``I almost got my head taken off last year because of him.''
But Williams did get one moving phone call from a teammate -- defensive end Jason Taylor.
''He was very, very cool,'' Williams said. 'He said, `I respect you. You have the strength to walk away that the rest of us don't have