Suspended running back Ricky Williams applied for NFL reinstatement today, according to his recently-gone-green agent Leigh Steinberg.
“Ricky is extremely excited about the prospect of playing in the NFL again and hopeful for a positive response,” said Steinberg.
On the collegiate level, Williams holds or shares 20 NCAA records, and won the 64th Heisman Trophy, becoming the second Texas Longhorn (next to Earl Campbell) to win the award. Ricky’s professional career, however, has been turbulent at best, marred by drug use and his constant battle with a type of social anxiety disorder.
In 2005, following Williams’ sudden decision to quit the sport, Esquire’s Chris Jones wrote a wonderful piece while spending time with the former Pro Bowler in Australia (Williams was living off the land, in a tent, surrounded by books). It would be both condescending and cliché to simply label Williams as a troubled, underachiever, wrought by bad circumstance. Rather, Williams has made a plethora of amazingly poor decisions through his own volition, and has paid some consequences along the way.
What I’ve found most interesting about Williams, however, has been his journey of self-discovery, and also the enduring dedication of Steinberg (as well as his attorney, David Cornwell). One vital, yet too-often-understated, goal of a sports agent is to make sure one’s clients’ needs are met. And while these “needs” typically relate to contract and sponsorship negotiation, they can also relate to a much more basic human desire: happiness. Williams may never find personal solace or peace off the field. So far it’s been an up and down ride that’s literally taken him to some dark corners of the earth. Critics and NFL pundits alike wrote him off and forgot about him a long time ago. Not many people have truly stood by him. But Leigh Steinberg has.