If there was a fantasy draft of NFL players and the goal was to get the player most associated with marijuana, Ricky Williams is the consensus No. 1 overall pick. The former Saints/Dolphins/Ravens running back was notoriously associated with the wicked weed during his stretch in the NFL, and even more so when he bolted the league for a spiritual sojourn to California in 2004.
Williams was facing $650,000 fine and four-game suspension at the time (and you think today's stance on marijuana is arcane) and decided to retire. He would eventually come back, rectify his situation and continue toting the rock for the Dolphins.
In the upcoming Sports Illustrated documentary "Ricky Williams Takes the High Road" -- total whiff by SI not to use "Breaking Bud" -- the former NFL back discussed his time in the NFL, including the outrageous number of drug tests he faced from the league.
"I think I might have the world record for most times drug tested... at least 500 drug tests," Williams said.
500!!! To put that in context, Williams played in 147 games during his time in the NFL and has 342 receptions during his entire career. He was drug tested more times than he caught footballs. Say it out loud.
As a result, according to his wife, the drug testers became "like family."
"When the drug testers would come, some of them were like family," Kristen says in the documentary.
Those testers were so close to Ricky he once had the opportunity to completely bypass a suspension -- all he had to do was switch some samples (and may have been not entirely discouraged to by the tester).
"The one test where he got caught that had him suspended for the four months, we could have switched it that day if we wanted to," Kristen recalls. "That guy, we knew him so well ... he tested Ricky and left them both [samples] sitting on the counter and left for 45 minutes and then came back ... but you know, Ricky's an honest person. That thought never entered his mind I don't think."
It should have -- Williams missed an entire season (2003) while he was retired and then missed another full year (2006) when he was suspended by the NFL for a violation of the substance-abuse policy.
Had Williams been a little dishonest and flipped the samples, he probably could've avoided the missed games. On the other hand, if he'd only been playing football a decade later, he might not have missed very much time at all. The new drug-testing policies are substantially more lax when it comes to marijuana violations.
The full documentary will air on SI.com on July 13.