For most of his adult life, Ricky Williams has walked to the beat of his own drum. The former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL rushing champion retired in his prime before returning to play several more seasons, then retired for good after the 2011 season. Williams was a marijuana advocate years before states began to legalize it for recreational purposes. He has also been a longtime supporter of mental health awareness.
Williams, 45, has continued to challenge the status quo in retirement. He recently revealed that he officially changed his name -- it's now Errick Miron, as he took the last name of his wife of five years, Linnea. Williams publicly acknowledged his name change after an interviewer noticed his new Zoom name.
"Something I've been thinking about and talking about, and I finally went through the steps," Williams said during a recent appearance on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. "It was quick and easy, and it felt really meaningful."
Williams said he that legally changed his name roughly a year and a half ago. The switch to Errick isn't actually a switch at all -- Errick was his birth name, though he went by Ricky. A desire to create more balance in his marriage was one of his main motivations for changing his name. Williams said that he learned more about his relationship with his wife after taking a relationship-astrology class.
"I've found that that's been really powerful in creating ease, intimacy and trust in my relationship," Williams said.
Williams said that he wife was moved by the gesture.
"I think it's cool," Williams said of his name change. "It's somewhere where we can both win."
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While his original name is tied to gridiron glory, Williams doesn't think his name change will hurt him from a business standpoint. He recently started offering astrology readings on his website.
"To me, this makes the story of Ricky Williams more interesting," he said.
While injuries, a suspension and his brief retirement cut into his career statistics, Williams was still able to retire with over 10,000 career rushing yards, a milestone only 30 other running backs have reached. Williams, whose 11-year career was spent with the Saints, Dolphins, and Ravens, is also only one of three people (the other two being Tony Dorsett and DeAngelo Williams) to rush for over 6,000 yards in both college and in the NFL. The 5-foot-10 Williams had a devastating combination of strength, speed and agility that allowed him to beat teams with both power as well as finesse.
Along with overcoming the pressure of being a first-round pick, Williams also overcame social anxiety that became more challenging in the aftermath of his infamous magazine cover photo with then Saints coach Mike Ditka wearing a wedding dress. While he didn't find it funny back then, Williams can laugh about the incident some two-plus decades later.
"I was in a limo with Coach Ditka (after the photo shoot) going back to the training facility," Williams recalled during an appearance on The Greg Cote Show podcast. "He had a cigar in his hand, and he was like, 'I don't know what they did to get you to put that wedding dress on, but I never would have done that.' I was thinking to myself, 'Why are you telling me this now? Why didn't you tell me this before the photo shoot?' . ... I'm just now, maybe in the past five years, really starting to live that one down. I can look at it now and laugh and say this was funny."