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Ricky Williams NFL Time Line

A Snapshot of Events in Ricky Williams NFL Career


Updated July 07, 2012

Ricky Williams' NFL career has been volatile to say the least. Since the start, barely a year has gone by that Ricky hasn't been involved in some sort of career-altering event. The on-again off-again player has such a convoluted history with the NFL that at times it can be difficult to follow his story. Below is a year-by-year snapshot of Ricky Williams' NFL ups and downs, including the diagnosis and treatment of his social anxiety disorder (SAD).

  • 1998: A college football star at the University of Texas, Ricky is awarded the Heisman trophy.

  • 1999: The New Orleans Saints give up all of their draft picks in order to sign the young star. Ricky plays three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, during which time he gains the reputation of being aloof and weird, partly for doing interviews with his helmet still on.

  • 2001: Ricky is diagnosed with SAD. He completes a treatment regimen including therapy and medication, and becomes an official spokesperson for Paxil.

  • 2002: Ricky is traded to the Miami Dolphins where he earns the title of NFL rushing champion. Ricky reports feeling more comfortable in Miami than he was in New Orleans.

  • 2004: Ricky faces a four-game suspension and fine of $650,000 for a third violation of the league's drug policy after he tests positive for marijuana use. Rather than complete the suspension, Ricky announces that he is retiring from professional football two days before the start of the Dolphins' training camp.

    The Dolphins go on to an abysmal season and win a judgment for $8.6 million from Williams for breach of contract. Ricky is quoted as saying that marijuana is 10 times more helpful for his SAD than Paxil, and ceases to be a spokesperson for the medication. His time off includes travels to India, Australia, Fiji, Thailand, Japan and California.

  • 2005: In need of a paycheck, Ricky returns to the Dolphins and serves his four-game suspension, missing the first four games of the 2005 season.

  • 2006: Ricky violates the drug policy for the fourth time (this time purportedly because of an holistic herb) and is suspended for the entire 2006 season. Ricky chooses to head to Canada and the CFL; a league without a drug testing policy. There he signs a $240,000 one-year contract to play for the Toronto Argonaughts, becoming the highest paid running back in the CFL. Ricky enjoys the atmosphere in Toronto and teaches yoga in his spare time.

  • 2007: Ricky is granted a request for reinstatement to the NFL. He tears his pectoral muscle during his first game back and is placed on injured reserve.

  • 2009: Ricky continues to play for the Dolphins, submitting to thrice-weekly drug tests and training as a massage therapist in his spare time. He plans to retire in 2010 and become a holistic shaman for the NFL. In the fall he weds longtime girlfriend Kristin Barnes.


The Neil Rogers Show. Ricky Williams tests positive for marijuana again. Accessed December 12, 2009.

NFL Fanhouse. Matured Ricky Williams at peace with role in Miami. Accessed December 12, 2009.

The New York Times. Ricky Williams is hoping to heal others, and his image.Accessed December 12, 2009.

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