It’s happening again.
Ricky Williams told the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday that he’s retiring from the NFL, and apparently this time it’s for real.
“The NFL has been an amazing page in this chapter of my life,” Williams said in a statement. “I pray that all successive adventures offer me the same potential for growth, success and most importantly, fun. I want to thank all my fans, teammates, coaches and supporters for the strength they’ve given me to overcome so much.”
The 34-year-old running back also thanked several coaches for helping him along the way, including Mike Ditka and Bill Parcells.
When he was with the New Orleans Saints, Ditka famously traded eight draft picks to the Washington Redskins in order to move up in the draft to select Williams fifth overall in 1999. He only spent three seasons with the Saints.
“I am excited about all the opportunities ahead—continuing my education, running The Ricky Williams Foundation and whatever other opportunities present themselves,” he added.
Williams, who in 2004 was facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, retired before the season, and then returned again in 2005. He left the league the following year to join Toronto of the Canadian Football League.
Williams was re-instated by commissioner Roger Goodell in 2007, but suffered a pectoral injury that ended his season after only one game.
Despite injuries, leaving the game, and spots of unusual behavior, Williams remained a productive back and is one of 26 players who rushed for more than 10,000 yards in their careers.
During his 11th and final season of his career, the running back rushed for 444 yards in 16 games for the Ravens, behind featured back Ray Rice.
“As a young player, you need to be around a guy who knows what he is doing, and Ricky was tremendous to learn from, Rice said in a statement. “The way he took care of his body and the way he prepared, he always showed that he is a true professional.”