Wednesday, December 27, 2006

MSD Top 10 Miami Sports Stories of 2006: 6.

Well, it’s late December which means it’s the time for television shows, magazines, websites and blogs to present their obligatory 2006 Best Of … lists. And the MSD is no exception. So, here is the Miami Sports Dude’s Top 10 Miami Sports Stories of 2006. I’ll be counting down the top ten from 10 to 1 in the next two weeks. And remember, there is to be no wagering of any kind ... and now, on with the countdown ...

#6. Ricky Gets The Boot From The NFL

The strange journey of running back Ricky Williams. It’s the kind of thing that can only happen to a “cursed” franchise like the Miami Dolphins. Sure, this sort of thing happens to other teams, like when Minnesota lost running back Onterrio Smith to suspension after he was busted at the airport with a product called The Original Wiz-O-Nator (I’m not making this up). Allegedly this product helps hide urine test results. But Smith was a backup, a guy the Vikings really wouldn’t miss all that much. Williams was our featured player, the kind of guy whose absence from the field makes something of a difference. So is the life of a Dolphins fan.

It was a new season and Dolphins fans were just getting over his betrayal of walking away from the team so he can spend his millions to smoke grass whenever he damn well pleased (somewhere, Dan Le Batard’s head just exploded). Then we woke up to the startling news that the NFL had decided to suspend him for … failing a drug test.

The initial response from Dolphins fans was of understanding and reason. No, wait, that’s not right. Dolphins fans were pissed. And that’s putting it mildly. Radio shows were inundated with angry calls, blogs went through the roof with piss and vinegar from furious commenters, dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria! And the only people on the face of the earth who defended Ricky were Nick Saban, Le Batard and Ricky’s mom, who at the time said she “was willing to bet her life that Ricky was not smoking weed again.”

The following weeks were filled with confusion and conjecture. Ricky insisted that he was not smoking grass. He told Le Batard that he was in India learning some kind of Yoga and that his new discipline prohibited him from smoking ganja. His agent claimed that Ricky had taken some sort of supplement or vitamin that may have contained an ingredient that simulates an illegal substance in urine samples. I myself theorized that perhaps Williams had eaten a poppy seed muffin.

It was all very mystifying. ''This whole thing is a little confusing,'' said one NFL source when asked what substance was found in Williams. “I'll just leave it at that.''

The whole thing suddenly turned into the Kennedy assassination. Theories abounded. Magic bullets flew from every direction. Everyone had their own hypothesis. We were all half expecting Le Batard to come out and claim he had proof of Ricky’s innocence with some sort of Zapruder film type evidence. In the end, we were never really told what it was. So we accepted the bad supplement explanation. We all knew that NFL players are world class athletes in top physical shape who take their workouts very seriously and are meticulous about what they put into their bodies. But this was Ricky Williams we were talking about, so we all just accepted that he was not your every day NFL player. He’s a space cadet. Still, we did feel a tinge of anger. Not so much at Ricky – that eventually subsided – but at the fact that we Dolphins fans could not seem to catch a break. It’s the kind of anger you feel towards the monkey who throws shit at people at the zoo. It’s only funny and amusing when it doesn’t happen to you.

So it came down to this: In what was possibly the dumbest thing he could do for his career – aside from hiring Master P as his agent – Ricky Williams apparently took a supplement without checking its ingredients first.

He eventually filed an appeal and Dolphins fans had to wait to see what the NFL ruled. This waiting led to more fury, followed by acceptance, and ending with indifference. Dolphins fans were convinced that no matter what the NFL ruled, Ricky Williams was a space cadet and was destined to find a way to fuck things up again anyway.

The NFL upheld their suspension and Ricky was then allowed to go to play football in Canada’s CFL. The Williams thing eventually blew over what with the Dolphins finding a way to fuck things up without him. And he is expected to return to Miami for the 2007 season.

But for a moment, the whole sports viewing world was affixed on Miami and watched the latest chapter in Ricky Williams’ strange journey … as they dropped to their knees and thanked their Maker that he didn’t play for their team.

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