The former Miami Dolphins running back explained to Wallace that his sudden retirement stemmed from a third positive drug test and the fallout that was sure to come if he stuck around.
"The thing that I had the most trouble with was that after you fail your third test, then it becomes public knowledge that you failed the test. And that's the one thing that I couldn't deal with at the time. People knowing that I smoke marijuana," Williams told Wallace. "That was my biggest fear in my whole entire life. I was scared to death of that."
Of course, he contradicts himself later by saying he doesn't care what others think of him, which only leads to confirm my suspicion that he is a very confused young man who is looking for something out of life that football didn't offer him.
Obviously, Williams is the type of guy that walks to the beat of a different drum, and apparently he places a higher value on other things in life than money and fame. And while many of us find it hard to understand how he could walk away from millions of dollars to play a game, he has never hidden the fact that he does not share the same love for the sport than many NFL athletes do. So in retrospect, it should not have come as a surprise that he walked away from the game while at the pinnacle of his earning power. Obviously, his timing could have been better, but the signs were there from the beginning.
And who are we to tell him when it is, or isn't, okay to live his life as he sees fit?
Williams put it best when he said, "So when is it okay for me to stop playing football? When would it have been okay for me to stop playing football? When my knees went out? When my shoulders went out? When I had too many concussions? Like what? When is it okay? I'm just curious, because I don't understand. When is it okay to not play football anymore?"
I think the public's problem with this situation is that there is a misconception that Williams chose marijuana, which he readily admits to using, over football. In reality, what Ricky appears to be looking for is freedom. He craves the freedom to be where he wants when he wants, and to do what he wants. And I have a hard time faulting anyone that is searching for that peace of mind.
Could he have handled the situation better? Absolutely! But Ricky Williams does not owe it to us to continue playing football. He has the right to pursue happiness just as the rest of us do.