Williams could use Pinball's wisdom

JODY VANCE -- 24 Hours Toronto

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

Ricky Williams is a great football player -- when he wants to play.

Proof of that has been shown over his seven years in the NFL. A Heisman Trophy winner at Texas, he quickly became a premier running back first for the New Orleans Saints and eventually a Pro Bowler for the Miami Dolphins.

Williams averaged more than 1,300 yards rushing over that span. He was at his most productive in 2002. He carried for 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns. Unfortunately, a black cloud of pot smoke hangs over these accomplishments.

On the eve of the 2004 season, he left behind his lucrative contract and, more importantly, his team when he took off on a "spiritual journey" to Southeast Asia, saying he was done with football.

No surprise that his spiritual path led him back to the NFL after his cash ran low -- and when the Dolphins demanded millions of bonus dollars back.

He was cautiously brought back into the fold by The Fish. But he let them down once again when he failed yet another drug test, leaving the team and the league with no alternative but to suspend him for an entire season.

Enter The Toronto Argonauts. They added Williams to their list of desirables from the NFL.

The Boatmen have created a buzz (no pun intended) and helped provide the CFL with much-needed publicity, even if it is generated by bringing in an NFL back with a history of disciplinary and law-breaking issues. (This worked out so well with Lawrence Phillips!)

The Dolphins must first allow him to come north to compete, accepting the risk of injury to their star player. Perhaps it's worth the risk if only to have him under the tutelage of the single most positive influence in sports, Mike "Pinball" Clemons

Despite Williams' cloudy reputation, this would be a great promotional vehicle for the CFL if it happens.

Let's hope for the Argos and the league, this experiment doesn't go up in smoke.

Of course it's also a chance for Ricky to earn some Canadian green. Ha ha.

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Jody Vance is a longtime television sportscaster and personality living in Toronto. Her column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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