Ricky Williams, once 'smoked under the bus' by Willie Nelson, and his case for HOF
Williams would likely have been in the Hall of Fame if he could've publicly smoked marijuana
Because the legalization of marijuana remains a hot topic in NFL circles and there are few more prominent advocates for the usage of of it -- particularly for football players -- than former NFL running back Ricky Williams.
Williams revealed recently he was drug tested more than 500 times in his NFL career (he doesn't even have 500 career receptions). He continued opening up about the topic of marijuana with Bill Simmons on HBO's Any Given Wednesday, appearing in a pair of segments, including one not related to football called the "Weed Round" with actor Seth Rogan.
Ricky's funniest line of the night came during a portion of the show when he was asked about the most famous person he's smoked marijuana with and said while he was playing in the NFL he got "smoked under the bus" (literally?) by Willie Nelson.
"I don't have a surprising person, but I have a cool person. I think the most epic time, I got on Willie Nelson's bus," Williams said. "It was an interesting time because I was playing in the NFL, so I was being drug tested twice a week so I had to be careful how I did this. It was embarrassing. He smoked me under the bus. Bad. I was crawling off the bus."
If you're gonna come at the king, you best not miss. Williams also copped to making marijuana stir fry as an edible way of ingesting the substance while he was playing, so that's a fun fact.
Also of interest were Williams' comments about the Hall of Fame. Asked by Simmons if he would be a Hall of Famer had he not dealt with the ramifications of a strict NFL marijuana policy, Williams said there's "no doubt."
"For sure. No doubt. One, I look at the amount of stress and things that distracted me from playing football, surrounding cannabis," Williams said. "I look at the first half of my career when it was pretty much a secret that I used and I could do as I wished. And the last part of my career, I think I would have started, I would have had more touches. As it is right now, 11 seasons, over 10,000 yards. Also, the negative media coverage I got really tarnished my image."
There's a really good argument for Williams on the Hall of Fame front. If you look at his career, he had four bad years in the middle of his prime where no statistics were really accrued.
The first was 2004, his 27-year-old season, when he missed the entire year after retiring. He returned in 2005 but didn't play the entire season and only rushed for 743 yards. In 2006, his 29-year-old season, he was suspended the entire year by the NFL for substance abuse violations.
He returned in 2007 and suffered a chest injury that cost him the entire year. You can't just magically apply 1,200 yards per season to the four missed years, but it's not unreasonable to think if he hadn't missed seasons because of marijuana-related issues (the retirement and the suspension) he might have gone over 1,000 yards for the four seasons.
Even if you go really conservative and call it even for the last two years of his career (about 1,000 yards) for one of those missed seasons, it's not crazy to give Ricky an extra 2,000 yards on his career totals if the marijuana absences -- and injuries immediately thereafter -- don't come into play.
If he's a top-15 all-time rusher in terms of yards (12,050 would get him there, he currently has 10,009) and top-20 in touchdowns, he's getting close to Canton.
There are a million "what if" scenarios in the NFL and Williams and marijuana is another. But it's not hard to argue he would've been infinitely more productive if he'd played either 10 years earlier or 10 years later than he actually did.
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