Ricky Williams Played in the Canadian Football League (CFL) For the Toronto Argonauts in 2006

Ricky Williams is an accomplished NFL football player that played one season in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for the Toronto Argonauts in 2006. The events surrounding Ricky playing in the much lower profile CFL rather than the illustrious NFL are very unique to his particular situation which involved being suspended for the 2006 NFL season by the league for repeatedly violating the substance abuse policy. The drug that Williams abused on multiple occasions despite repeated warning was marijuana, a recreational drug that was not even used for performance enhancing purposes the way steroids or Human Growth Hormone (HGH) would be.

In late May of 2006 Ricky Williams signed a contract to play running back for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. The one year contract provided Ricky a source of income while he served his one year National Football League (NFL) suspension for violating the substance abuse policy in the NFL. The contract that Ricky signed was for 240,000 Canadian dollars. As a stipulation to the contract the Miami Dolphins, the NFL team that Ricky was contractually obligated to, required that Ricky be returned to the Miami team following his one season stint in the CFL.

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Many fans in Toronto were elated by the prospect of bringing on a player with the talent of Ricky Williams to rev up their offense. More casual fans in the area were more excited that such a high profile player who was receiving a lot of media attention was joining their otherwise often forgotten local franchise.

For some people the signing of Williams tainted the respectability of the Toronto franchise and the entire league. Joe Theismann, a popular on air football personality and former player in both the NFL and CFL, made his disdain for the move by the Argonauts clear in a radio interview in which he belittled the franchise for stooping so low as to sign a banished player who had gained a reputation of a slacker and drug abuser. Theismann went as far as to describe Williams as “an addict,” a comment that got a lot of attention in the world of football analysis. Amusingly, the Argonauts organization actually responded to the specific criticism by calling attention to a guilty verdict handed down to the son of Joe Theismann on drug related charged.

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Williams was hampered by injuries during his one season in CFL and subsequently only played in eleven games. His rushing statistics of 526 yards and two touchdowns were barely newsworthy. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the time Ricky spent in the CFL was his professed love for the city of Toronto and the general style of the CFL as opposed to the more intense and structured NFL. On numerous occasions Williams spoke about enjoying the culture and pace of life in the international city of Toronto were football could be his job without having to be his life. Among the numerous things Ricky did during his time in Toronto was to teach yoga classes.

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by Jeff Bank