This is Ricky Williams.
Now, this isn't all going to be about sports, but this is a good story. Ricky Williams played football. Played it really well. In fact, he still holds the college career rushing record, which is an amazing feat in football. Last weekend, Ricky Williams decided football was too small for him. After 5 short seasons playing professional football, Ricky declared, "I'm finally free." and retired at the ripe old age of 27. He said he bought a one-way ticket to Asia and didn't know when he was coming back. Who can argue with that?
The sports world can. For the last couple of days, people have been frantically scrambling to make sense of the decision, but if you can't understand, you probably never will. Ricky walked away from fame and even more riches than he's already amassed (it's been estimated he's got a cool 10 million to live off), but for many people in the sports world, this is still too confusing. Why wouldn't someone want more fame, more money, more trophies? Where's his competitive spirit? Maybe the answer is in what people are saying about him.
In the last two days I've heard people say he was a strange kid trapped in a football player's body. That he actually hated the game he excelled at. Hated the jock mentality and the macho posturing that came along with it. (In fact, he once got into a fist fight with his high school coach because he refused to take out his tongue stud.) That he was sick of the drug testing he had to endure, because he was known to enjoy marijuana. That he was afraid to end up like former NFL great Earl Campbell, who now looks as frail as a person 30 years his senior. But all of that is just poor speculation.
Personally, if someone feels their health is at risk, I don't need any further excuse. But my favorite explanation was from Ricky himself. Ya see, Ricky's suffered from social anxiety syndrome. For years, he's taken medication for it. He's talked about how he never had the confidence to do anything that wasn't expected of him. He said he could never go dancing because he felt too self-conscious. Playing football was natural, since people expected him to. But his condition improved. So much so, he's gone off medication and, as he put it best last weekend, "I was never strong enough to not play football, I'm strong enough now."
Enjoy Asia, Ricky.
Side note: a friend of mine has a brother who works for the University of Texas, where Ricky played in college. He said Ricky contacted them about a teaching position in the physical education department whenever he returns.