Williams rejects four-game suspension for retirement

Tim Reynolds and Tim Reynolds

This could be it for Ricky Williams. He just doesn’t want to play football.

The 2002 NFL rushing champion rejected a deal to serve a four-game drug suspension this season and return to the field next year. He’ll stay retired instead, and his lawyer, David Cornwell, doesn’t believe Williams will play again.

“Ricky indicated to me that he is no longer interested in resuming his career at this time,” Cornwell said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press on Thursday.

The 1998 Heisman Trophy winner needed to let the league know his decision by Thursday so he could be moved from the retired list to the suspended list by the deadline. He would have served the suspension for the Miami Dolphins’ final four games, starting Dec. 12 at Denver.

“Ricky Williams has declined to accept the terms of his reinstatement,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

Those terms included a promise Williams would play next season and re-enter the NFL drug program immediately. He would have been tested on a regular basis.

“The NFL sought assurances that Ricky is indeed committed to playing,” said Cornwell, who would not disclose exactly why Williams decided against the deal.

Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene wouldn’t comment, saying the matter is between Williams and the NFL.

Williams, 27, stunned his team by retiring shortly before Miami opened training camp in July. The Dolphins filed a lawsuit in federal court against the running back, seeking the $8.6 million an arbitrator ruled he owes the team for breaching his contract. Williams is fighting the decision.

He gave up the $5 million he would have earned this season, which would have been his sixth in the NFL, amid reports he faced suspension for substance abuse. He is now enrolled in a 17-month course at the California College of Ayurveda in Grass Valley, Calif., studying holistic medicine.

Williams has social-anxiety disorder and was a spokesman for an anti-depressant. He said marijuana helped him after he stopped using the anti-depressant.

He rushed for 3,225 yards in two seasons with the Dolphins, including 1,853 yards in 2002. Miami acquired him from New Orleans after the 2001 season.

But without Williams, the Dolphins have gone into a tailspin — largely because of their inability to run the ball.

Miami’s running game ranks 31st in the 32-team NFL, and the fallout prompted coach Dave Wannstedt to resign last month. The team is 2-9 and will finish with a losing record for the first time since 1988.

Earlier this month, Cornwell said Williams wanted to return to football; Williams responded by telling the San Francisco Chronicle that the notion was “wishful thinking” by Cornwell and the player’s agent, Leigh Steinberg. “If I play, it puts more money in their pocket,” Williams told the newspaper.

Williams’ former teammates seemed largely indifferent to the latest news.

“I think everybody just kind of listens and laughs,” Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad said. “We expect to hear not from him, but of him every week or two. I don’t think anybody’s expecting him to ever be back in uniform with us.”

Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael added: “I don’t really care about it. It doesn’t cause me to sleep any better or any worse. I’m worried about the people who are here right now.”