Sobre thoughts for Argos

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

Depending on your point of view, the Argos pursuit of Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is either a good thing or shamefully wrong.

Several callers on The Fan 590 this week questioned the Argos desire to sign Williams because of his alleged use of marijuana. Some people even questioned how Williams would be allowed into the country, presuming he had been convicted of some crime. In fact, he hasn't been charged with anything other than repeatedly violating the rules of the NFL's substance abuse policy.

The NFL rules have no jurisdiction on the laws of the land. They don't even apply to the Canadian Football League, which will accept a suspended NFL player if the club to whom he is contracted agrees.

So while the NFL has suspended Williams for the 2006 season for his fourth violation, he can come to the CFL to play -- if Miami agrees.

"We're still waiting to see what their point of view is," Williams's agent, Leigh Steinberg, said last night. "Ricky does have some interest and intrigue with the situation depending on how the Dolphins feel. We just have to see how this play out to get a definite sense."

The Dolphins are concerned about possible injury. Head coach Nick Saban, who has total autonomy on football operations, has twice met with Williams and talked to Steinberg without quashing the plan.

Williams has two more years remaining on his pact and already owes the Dolphins $8.6 million in bonus money after skipping out on the 2004 season.

Rather than sit out a four-game NFL suspension for his third substance abuse violation, Williams travelled the world.

He returned to the team last year, apologized for quitting and remained a model citizen the entire season, on and off the field. He rushed for 700-plus yards and had a 4.4-yard average, which is damn good after missing all that time. He showed flashes of the talent that made him the league's rushing leader in 2002.

By all accounts, Williams is a good person, who either has an affinity and/or addiction to an illegal drug. In yesterday's National Post, Argos running back Jeff Johnson said the CFL should be more respectful of the NFL -- that there's a reason why Williams has been suspended four times.

In the Vancouver Province, B.C. Lions general manager/head coach Wally Buono wondered how many chances Williams should be given.

"We haven't done our due diligence on Ricky Williams," Argos co-owner David Cynamon said in an interview with the Toronto Sun this week. "We need to prove to ourselves and our brand and our fans that he is a high-quality individual beyond the fact he has failed four drug tests in the NFL."

The fact the Argos are trying to sign a player with a history of substance use has been seen by some as contradictory and hypocritical when the organization is preaching positive messages in the community with anti-violence, anti-bullying and youth outreach programs.

In some cases, the Argos are presenting these messages with players who have criminal and/or drug-related histories.

The Argos believe employing these players helps them on the road to rehabilitation and helps them to help others.

"There's a new, positive constructive approach to take with these individuals," Cynamon said.

"They have a lot to teach."

If Ricky Williams plays for Toronto, he'll have a chance to participate in these programs, which may in fact help him to become a better or a different person.

He'll also help the Argos immeasurably on the field and promote interest in the team -- whether it's viewed as a good idea or not.


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