Ricky decision day looms

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

The Ricky Williams saga is up and running again, and by all accounts it will have the running back in an Argos uniform next week or not at all.

A source told the Toronto Sun that the Miami Dolphins will give the Argos permission to talk to Williams in the next 48 hours or definitively say no. But, "it's ultimately going to work out" for Williams playing for the CFL team, the source speculated.

Sports Illustrated indicated yesterday that the Dolphins may be ready to give their consent to allow Williams to play for the Argos, who hold his CFL rights. Williams has two years to go on his Dolphins deal, but can't play in the National Football League for the 2006 season after violating that league's substance abuse policy a fourth time.

"I wish I knew as much as the Sports Illustrated writer," Argos president Keith Pelley said. "We haven't heard from the Miami Dolphins. As soon as that article came out, the phone started ringing. Nothing has changed for us. Our position is we're not putting any pressure on the Miami Dolphins or anybody. We'll wait this out."

With the Argos starting training camp for veterans on Sunday -- the rookies began a three-day mini-camp yesterday --Williams' agent, Leigh Steinberg, is trying to expedite a resolution with Miami.

The normally quotable agent declined to offer a time line on talks with the Dolphins or a prediction whether Williams will be an Argo.

The Argos placed Williams on their negotiation list 24 days ago when he failed to overturn his suspension. Marijuana use triggered the first three positives, while it's believed something related to herbal usage caused the fourth transgression.

Dolphins coach Nick Saban has refused to definitely say yes or no to allowing Williams, who led the NFL in rushing yardage in 2002, to play in the CFL, fearing he might sustain a career-threatening injury.

A source said the Dolphins also want absolute certainty that if Williams signs a contract with the Argos, he can return to the team next year without any legal entanglement. The minimum CFL contract is one year plus an option year. While a team can pass on the option year -- which the Argos plan to do -- and place the player on waivers, another team can claim him. However, under the agreement signed by the CFL and NFL in 1997, a CFL player has a window of opportunity to sign with an NFL team. And in this case Williams already is under contract to the Dolphins.

Even if the Dolphins give permission, Argos owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon want to meet Williams in person to ensure he is no longer using drugs and will promote that message to youths.

Williams apparently wants to play in the CFL to earn income and be in a structured football environment. He also has been sold on playing for Argos coach Pinball Clemons.

The CFL does not have rules precluding a player from participating while under suspension in the NFL. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week signed running back Onterrio Smith, who currently is under suspension in the NFL. But he is not under contract to play for an NFL team.


Videos

Photos