Star attraction

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

We all know that Ricky Williams has become the biggest gate attraction in the Canadian Football League.

We expect him to be one of the most exciting players to ever set foot on the longer and wider field.

And we believe he could provide one of the key ingredients to help the Toronto Argonauts become a legitimate Grey Cup contender in 2006.

What we didn't know is how tough it would be to get a word in with the talented running back, who joined the Toronto Argonauts after his most recent suspension from the NFL.

But sure enough, when the call went in to the Argos, we were politely told that the former Miami Dolphins star would not be available for a brief 1-on-1 interview.

The reason?

Williams was too busy boning up on the Argos playbook.

At first, we felt that lowly Winnipeg might be getting snubbed by those in the centre of the universe but it turns out Williams wasn't talking to anybody at the time, not even the Toronto media.

So rather than bemoan the missed opportunity to get Williams' views on his transition to the CFL game, getting settled in The Big Smoke (no pun intended), regaining his passion for football and possibly even his stint as a minor league prospect in the Texas Rangers organization, we figured we'd talk to a couple other people about Williams.

Without further adieu, let us begin with Argos general manager Adam Rita, who was kind enough to be interviewed.

"He's everything we expected," said Rita. "He gives us a little bit of a different look offensively and a different style of running back. He's got a real physical style of running, great vision and he's more of a downhill runner. He has great hands. He runs routes well.

"He's kind of the total package. He's very smart. It's just a matter of playing and working with the same quarterback, the same O-line and the same set of receivers. It will all help."

Rita isn't the only one who believes Williams will have a positive impact on the league, both on the field and at the gate.

Blue Bombers GM Brendan Taman expects the powerful rusher to put up big numbers -- on the field and in the stands.

"I think Ricky will create significant fan interest across the league," said Taman. "A lot of people in North America will be intrigued to see his progress. The signing is very interesting to see what effect it has on Toronto's offensive schemes. A running back hasn't been emphasized before there, so we will see if they adapt to having him

there."

One member of the Blue and Gold, Albert Johnson III, got a first-hand look at Williams while he was playing for the Dolphins.

He has nothing but good things to say about his former teammate.

"He's a heck of a back, man, hard working, he shows up to work every day and does his job," said Johnson.

Johnson also defended Williams' lifestyle. Williams has been suspended four times from the NFL for marijuana use.

"Put somebody else in that position, and somebody that works in Toronto's front office or Miami's front office, and people don't care what they do when they go home. As far as on the field, I'd definitely have him on my team any day. He can run the ball, he's a great player, and he's a hard worker."


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