Esquire writer: Call made Ricky retire
By Harvey Fialkov
Staff writer
Posted November 6 2004

The author of this month's Esquire magazine piece on Ricky Williams believes if Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt and the estranged running back handled the pivotal phone call in July differently, Williams wouldn't have retired.

Esquire Staff Writer Chris Jones, who admittedly smoked marijuana with Williams a "few times" during his eight-day stay in a backpacker's commune in Byron Bay on the east coast of Australia in early September, said in the article that "even in the middle of dialing [Wannstedt], Ricky had no real intention of quitting."

"Ricky said he was sort of looking for someone to talk to," said Jones, 30, via phone call from Quebec. "If both Ricky and Wannstedt were 100 percent honest, they'd both say they could've done something different."

Jones said Williams' sudden decision to quit at 27 was prompted by a letter from the NFL informing him that he had failed his third drug test and would be fined $750,000 and forced to sit out the first four games. Williams was also unhappy about being fined $100,000 by the Dolphins for missing a few offseason workouts.

While Wannstedt has continually refrained from commenting on the ongoing Williams case, which is in litigation, a source said Wannstedt had "pleaded with Ricky to think about it and not rush into any hasty decision."

Jones wrote in his 6,000-word article that chronicled Williams' journey across several continents -- in which at times he lived in a tent -- that the elusive tailback didn't buy Wannstedt's sales pitch in which he told him, "If you were my son, I'd tell you that you should keep playing football."

"He was looking for something to pull him back in, for someone to give him one good reason," Jones wrote in the article. "Sure, a little more money would have helped, but a few kind words might have been enough. He wanted to feel the love. But then he heard Wannstedt's gum-chomping bark, and Ricky flat lost his hold on things."

"I should have been man enough to have a conversation with Dave before all this happened," Williams told Jones. "I got scared and I just told him I was retiring. It just came out."

Jones said Williams was planning to travel abroad until next summer before attempting a comeback, but the Dolphins' favorable decision by an arbitrator which ruled Williams should return $8.6 million to the team for breach of contact "accelerated" his desire to seek immediate reinstatement.

The NFL refused to comment on whether the article would affect its decision to approve Williams' recent application for reinstatement if he agrees to comply with the league's drug program.

Phone calls to Williams' attorney David Cornwell weren't returned.