Ricky wined, dined

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

In his appearance and his demeanour, Ricky Williams made quite an impression.

Williams dined at Centro Restaurant and Lounge on Thursday night as a guest of the Argos, who literally were wining and dining him.

Minus his trademark dreadlocks and bushy beard, he physically didn't resemble anything close to his hairy past.

"He looked fantastic," said Armando Mano, one of the restaurant's owners.

Mano called the Fan 590 to offer a character testimony of Williams, who has been bashed by some Canadian media and fans for his drug-related past, which includes four violations of the NFL substance abuse policy.

It has yet to be fully divulged what triggered the fourth violation, which has him suspended for the 2006 NFL season, although it has been speculated it may have related to an herbal derivative. The first three violations have been attributed to marijuana use, although the NFL does not release the cause.

"He came across as a sincere, genuine, well-spoken individual," Mano said of his conversation with Williams. "I've been reading people for 30 years (in the restaurant business) and he was as natural as they come, so genuine. He was one of those guys you want to give a hug to. You know when people are putting it on and when they're not. He was as real a person as I've met in a long time. He was just nice and humble. It was a breath of fresh air."

The Argos would not comment on the meeting, although a source other than Mano confirmed it took place.

OOPS, WRONG GUY

Now the real story can be told: The Fan reported on Thursday Williams had been watching the Argos practice from afar. That stunned onlookers who had been there and saw no sign of him.

Turns out the whole thing may have been an overreaction by a reporter following a remark by offensive lineman Jude St. John, who upon seeing former teammate Leroy Blugh, now a head coach at Bishop's University, jokingly remarked out loud: "Hey, there's Ricky Williams."


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