Texas legend and 1998 Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams has decided to retire after 11 seasons in the NFL. Williams, 34, played with the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and spent his final year with the Baltimore Ravens.
He ends his career as one of just 26 players in NFL history to rush for more than 10,000 yards. He passed Earl Campbell in rushing, becoming Texas’ most productive rusher in the NFL.
“The NFL has been an amazing page in this chapter of my life,” Williams said. “I pray that all successive adventures offer me the same potential for growth, success and most importantly fun. I want to thank all my fans, teammates, coaches and supporters for the strength they’ve given me to overcome so much.”
He was selected fifth overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 1999 NFL Draft, and he became the first Saints 1,000 yard rusher in more than a decade. In 2002, while on the Dolphins, Williams led the NFL with 1,853 rushing yards. In his final season, his season with the Ravens, he rushed for 444 yards and two touchdowns. Baltimore went 12-4 this season and lost to New England in the AFC championship game.
He originally retired in 2004 when facing a suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. But he returned in 2005 and then played with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 2006.
His last NFL start was in 2009; he played backup for Ray Rice this season.
“I have to thank coach [John] Harbaugh and the Ravens organization for the opportunity they gave me this year,” Williams said. “I had so much fun and really appreciated the chance to finish on such a great note.”
As a Texas player, Williams was the winner of the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year award. He finished as one of the best players in college football history with 21 NCAA records and 26 University of Texas all-time marks.
Williams said he now plans to continue his education and running the Ricky Williams Foundation.
“We’re so proud of Ricky and everything he accomplished,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He’s always been a great player but in recent years I watched every week with amazement at how much speed, power and quickness he still had despite his age.”
Williams’ No. 34 jersey was retired in September 2000 and he is in the Longhorn Hall of Honor.
“He is a special football player and will always be remembered as one of the best to ever play the game,” Brown said.
Printed on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 as: Texas great Ricky Williams retires from NFL