3. Ricky Williams, RB, Ravens (2011)
When the name Ricky Williams is brought up, two things usually come to mind: marijuana and that infamous ESPN Magazine cover where he posed in a bridal gown alongside Mike Ditka.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that Williams was a darn good running back in his prime, even winning the NFL rushing title in 2002. In the past few years, he’d made more headlines for off-field controversy than on-field heroics.
He unexpectedly retired from the NFL before the 2004 season to study holistic medicine, un-retired the following year, then missed the entire 2006 season for (surprise) violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
After spending that year with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, he returned to the Dolphins in 2007 only to suffer a season-ending injury in his first game back.
More from Ebony Bird
- Will Baltimore Ravens be rewarded for risky Lamar Jackson decision?
- The Baltimore Ravens Big Gamble
- Ravens Super Bowl odds present fascinating insight on Lamar Jackson’s future
- Should Baltimore Ravens be interested in this recently released WR
- Do the Baltimore Ravens have serious interest in this free agent wide out?
By 2011, Williams was undoubtedly past his prime. Still, the Baltimore Ravens were willing to take a chance.
For that season, he served as both a backup and mentor to the team’s young and flashy starting ball-carrier, Ray Rice, who picked up 1,364 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry.
Williams wasn’t quite as productive, with 444 yards and two touchdowns on 4.1 yards per carry. However, he did manage to top the 10,000 career rushing yards mark, finishing with 10,009 yards overall.
As with Cunningham, Williams’ lone season with the Ravens would be his last. In a cruel twist of fate, one year after his second NFL retirement, the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII.
Had he held on for one more year, Williams could have hoisted his first and only Lombardi Trophy at the Superdome in New Orleans. Instead, according to CBS Sports, he was working as a cameraman that night.