Thursday, November 15, 2007

Welcome Back, Ricky

Can't you just picture it: The League announces that Ricky Williams has been reinstated, and suddenly the delightful tune courtesy of a classic 70's television sitcom starts playing all throughout South Florida.

It goes a little something like this:

"Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out.
Welcome back to that same old place that you laughed about.
Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around.

Who'd have thought they'd lead ya
Back here where we need ya

Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've got him on the spot,
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, welcome back."

What a fitting jingle for the situation.

Everybody, it's time to open up your arms wide and welcome back Ricky Williams.

I have always been an ardent supporter of Ricky - not just as a player, but as a person. (You can read my impassioned defense of Ricky following his most recent suspension here.)

Most people will disregard him as some combination of foolish, selfish, or cowardly. I would call those people callous and insensitive.

Because Social Anxiety is a less tangible disorder than say alcoholism or the abuse of pain killers (anyone remember that shining episode of Brett Favre's unsullied career?) critics were quick to mercilessly jump all over Ricky for the decisions he made. Granted, I can't defend the way that Ricky abruptly left the team with no warning, but the decision itself should be free from criticism.

It was obvious that from the very beginning of Ricky's pro career, he was essentially swept along by a tidal wave that he couldn't stop. He wasn't comfortable with the situations he was being placed in, but he couldn't really stop the process either. Eventually it just became too much for him to handle, and he made the decision that was best for his own mental state.

Now that he's been away from football for an extended period of time, he seems ready to make another entrance. He has said that a return to NFL action is a personal test that he wants to engage in as a way to prove his mental resiliency. Others say he's just doing it for the money. You know what? Both are likely contributing factors to his return.

Miami will have a two-week roster exemption for Ricky as they decide what to do with him. According to ProFootballTalk.com, league sources say that Miami presently intends on welcoming him back.

And that is absolutely the correct decision - for several reasons.

First, the trade deadline has already passed, meaning that Miami can no longer get value for Ricky unless they hold on to him into the offseason. They can bring him back this year and let him work himself back into playing shape, and then gradually showcase him during the last month of the season. Once the offseason rolls around, the front office can explore every available option to trade him on or before draft day. At this point, I would gladly accept a seventh-round pick for Ricky, but I would not be surprised at all to see some team offer up as high as a fifth-round pick for him.

Secondly, even if no team makes a deal for Ricky in the offseason, it will still be worthwhile to hold onto him. Ronnie Brown recently tore his ACL - an injury that requires a rehabilitation period of approximately a year or more before the player is capable of their normal performance. Brown was the best running back in the NFL this season before going down with the injury (yes, better than Adrian Peterson) and the Dolphins cannot afford to rush him back onto the field and risk further complications. With Ricky on the squad, Brown could safely be placed on the PUP list for the first six weeks of the season to continue his rehab unabated, leaving Jesse Chatman as the starter with Ricky backing him up. That is still a very capable duo.

Like every season, the attrition rate on running backs will strike some team early in the year, and they will become desperate for help at the position (see: Green Bay, Tampa Bay, St. Louis this season). One of those teams would likely be interested in Ricky, and the Dolphins would be able to use that team's desperation to nab a draft pick before the trading deadline. Ronnie Brown would be able to come back after Week 6, and the Brown-Chatman combination would resume.

Thirdly, as I have mentioned before, Miami must avoid going 0-16 and the inescapable shame that would accompany that feat. If Ricky can help the team win a game, he should remain on the squad.

Finally, Ricky only costs the team around the league minimum in salary. For a player of his caliber, that is a bargain. There is no financial reason not to keep him.

Oh yeah, and if he were to be released and the Patriots picked him up and rode him to another Super Bowl victory, I think I would cry myself to sleep for a long time.

I'm sure most of you are waiting to gnash your teeth and rip into Ricky for the umpteenth time, but before you do that I am simply asking you to read the article that I linked to above.

Then all you have to do is hum that little ditty, open your arms, and welcome back Ricky.

1 comment:

William said...

Great article. And Great theme song. I just want to know what kind of article you'll write if this scenario happens again.