BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 20: Ricky Williams #34 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bengals 31-24. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Ricky Williams is apparently retiring, ending a career that included five 1,00-yard seasons but will likely be better remembered for his off-the-field antics.
Ricky Williams has apparently told the Baltimore Ravens that he is retiring. The 34-year-old running back was coming off a season in which he was primarily a backup, but still managed to accumulate more than 500 total yards and score a pair of touchdowns. He hit a high-water mark in Week 13, when he rushed for 76 yards on 16 carries and scored a touchdown during a victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Ricky Williams informed BAL officials he's retiring. Ends a distinguished if unconventional career. Team would have welcomed him back— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) February 7, 2012
This news would mark the end of a career that was among the more intriguing in NFL history. His career was punctuated by odd photo opportunities, some quality on-field performances, a well-known affinity for marijuana, an early retirement and an impressive comeback. Williams compiled more than 10,000 rushing yards and scored more than 100 touchdowns in a career that spanned 12 seasons.
Williams' NFL career was immediately made interesting when then-New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka traded his entire 1999 NFL Draft class in order to move up and pick the Heisman Trophy winner No. 5 overall. That prompted ESPN Magazine to stage a photo that depicted Williams in a wedding dress getting married to Ditka.
His on-the-field career did not start as well, and he had a somewhat disappointing rookie season in which he rushed for 884 yards. But he followed that up with four straight 1,000-yard seasons that included a 1,853-yard, 23-touchdown season with the Miami Dolphins.
Williams tested positive for marijuana after the 2005 season and opted to retire, rather than serve his suspension. But he came back in 2007 and posted his fifth career 1,000-yard season in 2009, scoring 15 touchdowns to boot.
For more on Williams' retirement, be sure to check out Ravens blog Baltimore Beatdown.