T.O. rekindled Ricky's love for football

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Whenever Keith Pelley sees the success former Argonaut Ricky Williams is enjoying with the Miami Dolphins these days, he credits the CFL for allowing the enigmatic running back to reinvent himself.

When Rasta Ricky first joined the Argos for the 2006 season, Pelley, the president of the team at the time, was well aware of the baggage Williams was lugging north of the border.

Like his history of smoking grass.

Or like the time he walked out on his Dolphins teammates just days before training camp.

Rasta Ricky appeared to be a ticking time bomb in cleats.

"We'd heard all the horror stories," Pelley recounted yesterday. "But upon meeting him, we discovered what a terrific guy he was. In fact, what surprised us the most is what a great team player he was.

"When he first came here, he had lost his love of the game. He wasn't having fun anymore. But he rediscovered that up here. He told us playing in the CFL allowed him to enjoy playing football again.

"It really rekindled his passion."

That didn't mean Williams did not take the league seriously. Far from it.

Pelley remembers walking into the Argos locker room after the team had lost the '06 Eastern Conference final to the Montreal Alouettes. One of the first players he saw was Williams, his head bowed down, sitting in silence for about 10 minutes.

"He finally looked up at me and said: 'I am so sad. I am so sorry.' " Pelley recalled. "He meant it."

Suspended by the NFL for the entire 2006 season for failing a substance abuse test for a fourth time, the Dolphins gave Williams permission to join the Argonauts, who made him the CFL's highest paid running back at $240,000.

Williams' one-year tenure in Double Blue was injury plagued. After suffering a broken hand during a game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, he hurt his left Achilles tendon when a door at the team's practice facility swung open and clipped him.

"I would have loved to see how he would have done had he played a full season," said Pelley of Williams, who finished the regular season with 526 rushing yards and 19 receptions in 11 games.

When Williams left at the conclusion of the season, outgoing CFL commissioner Tom Wright introduced a new rule that would keep a player under suspension from the NFL from signing with a CFL team. It was known as "The Ricky Williams Rule."

Life as a Dolphin has been good for Williams this season. Spelling starter Ronnie Brown in most games, Rasta Ricky has galloped for 512 yards, including 54 in a 16-12 Miami victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Asked afterward if he would enjoy returning to Toronto when his Dolphins meet the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre Sunday, Williams was as elusive off the field as he was on it.

"I just want to enjoy the win today," Williams said.

Pelley said Williams will be so busy with the Dolphins when the team arrives in Toronto that "he only has about three hours (of spare time)."

That won't keep Pelley, now the man spearheading CTV's 2010 Olympic coverage, from meeting with Williams and his family.

In fact, Williams' son Prince, 6, will watch the game with Pelley's boy Jason, also 6.

You can take Rasta Ricky out of Toronto but, it seems, you can't take Toronto out of Rasta Ricky.

EDWARDS STILL HURTING

The status of Bills starting quarterback Trent Edwards remains up in the air after he received treatment yesterday for his ailing groin, an injury that caused him to watch the second half of Sunday's awful 10-3 home loss to the San Francisco from the sidelines.

"He's sore. He's very sore," Bills coach Dick Jauron said yesterday, adding that more should be known today.

Asked if Edwards might be able to play against the Dolphins at the Rogers Centre, Jauron replied: "I would say there is a chance of it ... I would label him day to day."


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