DAVIE, Fla. – The running back who once staged a walkout predicts there will be no lockout.
Ricky Williams has been known to miss a season from time to time, but he expects to be playing in 2011. The Dolphins' running back is also their new player representative, and he's optimistic the NFL Players Association and the league will reach a collective bargaining agreement without a labor stoppage.
"Personally, I have a positive outlook," Williams said Wednesday. "I think that we're going to come to an agreement. At least I hope that there's not going to be a lockout. I believe that we're being reasonable, and there are certain things that are important to us and we're going to fight for. But I think when it comes down to it, there's going to be an agreement reached."
Williams made his comments in a conference call with Minnesota media. The Dolphins play the Vikings on Sunday.
Given his independent streak, the 33-year-old Williams might seem a curious choice as a spokesman for union solidarity. He abruptly retired before the 2004 season, and in the wake of repeated violations of the league's drug policy, he missed all but one game in 2006-07.
But his history with the Dolphins goes back eight years, longer than any other player on the roster, and Chad Pennington is the team's only older player.
Williams became the player representative when he replaced Greg Camarillo, who was traded last month to Minnesota. Camarillo said Williams needs no advice on how to do the job.
"He has been around forever and seen everything, so he's got that handled," Camarillo said. "I was asking him for tips when I was the rep and he was the alternate."
As a gesture of union solidarity, the Dolphins and Bills jointly raised their index fingers before Sunday's game in Buffalo. The ritual was repeated at several other season openers.
"It's a wonderful thing," Williams said. "It's not only the players. Ideally we'd have people in the stands doing it, people that work in the stadium. Because if there's a lockout initiated by the owners, it's not only going to be us that suffer, it's going to be the people that work for the stadium, it's going to be the fans, it's going to be the hotels, it's going to be the economies of these cities.
"So it's not just about us. It's about pushing to have some kind of an agreement reached."
AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.