Nowadays, NFL stars can be found on nearly every team at the wide receiver position, but there was a time when every kid growing up wanted to be like their favorite running back. For new Miami Dolphins tailback Sony Michel, that childhood idol was none other than former ‘Phins great Ricky Williams.
Ricky Williams’ footprint was larger than life in Florida
After being born in Orlando, Florida in 1995, Sony Michel may not have been around to remember when Ricky Williams was running through defenses with the Texas Longhorns, where he won a Heisman Trophy in 1998.
Williams’ profile coming out of college was so large that coach Mike Ditka traded his entire 1999 New Orleans Saints draft class, in addition to two of his top three picks in 2000, for the chance to move up and select Williams. He spent just three years with the Saints before being traded to the Dolphins for two first-round picks and change. Both of these trades would be unheard of today, but it shows how much Williams was valued around the league in his heyday.
While Michel may not have been around for his initial rise to stardom, he was old enough to remember Williams becoming a superstar later with the Dolphins.
After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Williams landed in Miami, where he immediately experienced the best year of his professional career.
- Ricky Williams stats: 1,853 rushing yards, 16 TD in 2002
Despite his fame, his first year with the Dolphins was the only Pro Bowl or All-Pro team he made in his 11-year playing career.
Williams followed up his 2,216 yards from scrimmage in 2002 with 1,723 more in 2003.
He then abruptly retired in 2004 after testing positive for marijuana, in which he was set to face a four-game suspension in addition to a $650,000 fine. This fine equaled a much larger percentage of his salary back then than what star players deal with in the modern era.