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Tuesday, May 24, 2005 

Prodigal Son

It appears that Ricky Williams is going to show up for Dolphins training camp, but will show up late to take advantage of a loophole in the NFL drug suspension rules.

When Williams retired in July, he was in violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy and subject to a one-year suspension. If he returns within a year of the day he retired, he would still be subject to the one-year ban. If he returns after that date, he will be subject to a four-game suspension.

There is some confusion as to when Williams retired, but according to the NFL, the date is July 27. The Dolphins open training camp July 24.

At first, I was surprised by this rule. But in fact, the NFL is acknowledging that Williams has already sat out a year, and is imposing an additional penalty of a four game suspension. Sounds like the fair thing to do.

If I had Nick Saban's job, I would try to trade Ricky Williams as soon as possible - but the four game suspension (and his checkered past) will make that nearly impossible. You don't need a distraction like this when you're starting your first NFL head coaching job, especially when you've drafted Ronnie Brown with the second overall pick.

Although Brown shared time with Carnell Williams in the Auburn backfield, is durability that big of a concern? Unless Brown gets injured during the first four weeks of the season or is a bust, Williams will most likely be a part-time back. I would be concerned that Williams will eventually get upset with his diminished role, be a bad influence on Brown, and not improve his trade value that much. Besides, I doubt that any team will trust him enough to make his their number one back, unless he's willing to sign an incentive-laden contract.

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