Austin, TX – Former All-Pro running back Ricky Williams has decided to retire after 11 NFL seasons.
The 34-year-old Williams was a star at the University of Texas and a heralded first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints. He spent the majority of his pro career with the Miami Dolphins and played his final season with the Baltimore Ravens.
"The NFL has been an amazing page in this chapter of my life," Williams said in a statement released by the University of Texas, where he won the 1998 Heisman Trophy. "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."
Williams ran for 10,009 yards with 66 touchdowns in 147 NFL games, but he will also be remembered for his numerous violations of the NFL's drug policy, an anxiety disorder and a solid final few seasons after coming back from a sudden retirement and year-long suspension.
The former NFL rushing champion assumed a reserve role with the Ravens this past season, gaining 444 yards and scoring two touchdowns while backing up Ray Rice. The news of Williams calling it a career comes two weeks after he said that he intended to return to the Ravens for the final season of his two-year contract.
"I have to thank Coach [John] Harbaugh and the Ravens organization for the opportunity they gave me this year," Williams added in the statement. "I had so much fun and really appreciated the chance to finish on such a great note."
Williams spent his first three NFL seasons with the Saints, who traded all six of their choices in the 1999 draft, and two picks the following year, to move up and select the former Texas standout with the fifth overall pick in 1999.
After twice reaching the 1,000-yard plateau with the Saints, Williams led the NFL with 1,853 rushing yards in his first season with Miami in 2002. He added 1,372 yards the following year, then abruptly retired just before training camp in 2004.
Williams rejoined the Dolphins in 2005, only after the team had demanded that he return bonus money for breach of contract. He then was suspended for the 2006 season after his fourth violation of the league's drug policy.
Unable to play in the NFL in 2006, Williams inked a one-year deal with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. With the Argos, he rushed for 623 yards on 124 carries and caught 24 passes for 193 yards. He also missed two months of the season due to a broken arm.
Williams played just one game in 2007 before rebounding to rush for 1,121 yards and 11 touchdowns two years later. He was no longer the feature back in his final season with the Dolphins, totaling only 673 yards in 2010.
His accomplishments at Texas included back-to-back NCAA rushing titles in 1997 and 1998. He is still the school's all-time rushing leader with 6,279 yards.