It wasn't quite as shocking as the first time he retired, but it was surprising nonetheless to hear Ricky Williams finally call it quits after it had been rumored he was returning to Baltimore.
Williams retired as one of 26 running backs to crack the 10,000-yard barrier, but he'll probably best be remembered for the all the strange instances that were a part of his career, most of his own doing.
It started when he was drafted by the Saints in 1999, when then-coach Mike Ditka traded his entire draft for the rights to Williams.
He had only one 1,000-yard season in New Orleans, then was traded to the Dolphins as what Dave Wannstedt thought was the final piece he needed to build a championship team.
Right out of the box, Williams had the finest season in team history, running for 1,853 yards, and earning his only Pro Bowl appearance. But after rushing for 1,372 yards the following year, he abruptly retired without much explanation, though he faced a four-game suspension for failing a drug test. He returned in 2005, was suspended again the following year, then went to the CFL where he broke a bone in his arm and missed the rest of the season.
When he returned in 2007, older but wiser, he was simply a contributor in a backfield he shared with Ronnie Brown, and no longer the man. He seemed to relish the role, that of selfless worker to that of team star, and apart from 2009, when he rushed for 1,000 yards again, he was never the impact player he had been before his first retirement.
I wrote in a previous post that Ricky was about more than football, and ultimately, his odd career will be remembered more for what happened off the field than for the fact that when he was at his best, Williams was one of the best backs in the game.
Manning saga continues
I think it's safe to say that after a publicized tiff with Colts owner Jim Irsay and after an Indanapolis columnist said Peyton Manning doesn't have the arm to play in the NFL anymore, Manning's time with the Colts is probably over.
I've seen several media reports that say the Dolphins are high on the list of teams expected to go after Manning. If the news about his arm trouble is true, obviously, he won't do much good wherever he goes. It would also be a sad ending to one of the greatest careers in league history.
Manning seemed like such a lock to break all of the career records owned by Brett Favre, but if he walked away now, he would retire with 399 touchdown passes, 21 short of Dan Marino for second on the all-time list, and more than 100 behind Favre.
Here's to hoping Manning does return, no matter if it's with Miami or not. He's earned the right to walk away on his terms. But when I hear about his neck woes, I remember Marino's own neck injury in 1999 that esentially ended his career. He never had the same arm strength when he returned that season, and he finished with his worst campaign in a 17-year career. That was when he decided to retire. Now, it's Peyton's turn to make the call.