Ricky Williams to retire after 11 seasons in the NFL

Ricky Williams Ricky Williams #34 of the Baltimore Ravens carries the ball as Darian Stewart #20 of the St. Louis Rams chases during the game on September 25, 2011 at the Edward Jones Dome in St Louis, Missouri.

Baltimore Ravens running back Ricky Williams has to decided to hang up his cleats after 11 up and down years in the NFL.

Williams told WQAM in Miami on Tuesday that a text exchange with Bill Parcells, his former boss with the Miami Dolphins, prompted him to think about his future and ultimately led him to decide to retire.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Bill Parcells texted Williams to check up on him. Williams responded that he felt good and couldn’t “wait till next year.” Parcells’ response to Williams’ reply changed the running back’s perspective, however.

“That’s good. Don’t chase this thing too long. You can contribute in other ways,” Parcells wrote in his text, according to the newspaper.

Williams said Wednesday in an interview with ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” that Parcells’ text was “huge” in helping him to rethink his future.

“After I started to think about it I was very grateful to him for kind of releasing me, allowing me to let my mind expand to consider what else I could achieve.”

Williams had retired once before, eventually missing the 2004 season. He was facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy by using marijuana before he shockingly announced he was leaving the game. He returned in 2005 to the Dolphins, then left to spend the 2006 season with Toronto of the Canadian Football League.

He then returned back to NFL again with the dolphins in 2007 and then traded after the 2010-2011 season to the Ravens.

Williams led the NFL in 2002 with 1,853 yards rushing for the Miami Dolphins and received his lone Pro Bowl invitation that season. He backed that up with 1,372 yards in 2003, giving him what remains the two most productive rushing seasons in Dolphins history.

Now 34, Williams assumed a backup role with the Ravens last season. Playing behind Ray Rice, Williams gained 444 yards on 108 attempts and scored two touchdowns in his final season giving him a total of 10,004 rushing yards and 75 touchdowns making him one of only 26 players to eclipse the 10,000 career rushing yard mark.

Johnny Jolly gets 6 years in prison for drug possession and probation violation

Soon to be former Green Bay Packer, Johnny Jolly was sentenced in tears to 6 years in prison for possession of codeine. He violated his terms of prohibition for previous charges dealing with codeine. He as attending rehab in the spring but then fell back into his addiction shortly after leaving. A very sad ending to a promising career.

Johnny Jolly

The Pack keep on rolling

Aaron Rodgers completed 23-of-30 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns and added six rushes for 21 yards Monday against the Minnesota Vikings. Rodgers was surgical again, and is now up to 28 passing touchdowns against just three interceptions. He also tied Peyton Manning’s record of nine straight games with a passer rating above 100, and with the reeling Bucs on deck at home, he should have no problem eclipsing that mark. With that said, the Green Packers are 9-0 while riding the back of the leagues best quarterback.

The defense has been suspect all year allowing the second highest total passing yards per game with 284.3 yards per game with adequate rush defense allowing 100.4 yards per game. But who cares about those stats?! Aaron Rodgers is completing 72.5% of his passes and is on pace to throw for over 5,000 yards and 50+ touchdowns. Last person to do that? Tom Brady and those magnificent pats back in 2007 when they reached the super bowl. If history means anything then you all can count on the big cheese being in another super bowl.

Haynesworth “worth” the trouble?

On Tuesday, the Patriots made the somewhat surprising decision to release defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. And on Wednesday, Haynesworth was claimed by the Buccaneers off of waivers.

To make room for Haynesworth, the Bucs released the recently-signed John McCargo.

This is shocking because, as we noted recently, there weren’t many teams that were a fit for Big Al’s style of not trying hard. But it does make sense because the Bucs recently lost defensive tackle Gerald McCoy for the season due to a torn biceps muscle.

This isn’t even the first time Tampa Bay’s been interested in Haynesworth — they flirted with the defensive tackle in free agency before Haynesworth decided to sign with the Redskins. (Presumably the whole “more guaranteed money with less guaranteed effort” thing was too valuable to pass up.)

Bucs GM Mark Dominik says he watched “all 134 of Haynesworth’s plays with NE twice before putting in a claim” and that he planned on having Haynesworth in for practice as early as Thursday.

“I have had a chance to talk to him already and he was – as you would hope – excited and fired up,” Dominik said, via Bucaneers.com. “He asked how soon we could get him a flight because he wants to be in tonight and go to practice tomorrow.  That was very encouraging.”

Now Haynesworth joins a defensive line rotation that features young players like Brian Price, and will hope to shore up the Tampa rush defense.

There’s upside to be had here, because a big close to the season for Haynesworth could net him another contract with a team. But given that he couldn’t even get things going in New England, football’s version of the Betty Ford Clinic, it’s hard to imagine him playing hard for Tampa now.

The Lions finally show their fangs

Fluke or no fluke, the Detroit Lions sit on top of the NFC North tied for first place with the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. Never in a million year would I ever think I’d write that sentence but it’s finally here. With pro bowl type production from 2009’s first overall draft pick Matthew Stafford, a newfound swagger on the defensive side due to 2010’s second overall pick, Ndamukong Suh and “Megatron” himself, Calvin Johnson, on pace to break the single season touchdown record, it’s tough not put the Lions up there with Packers. Yes, we are only a quarter of the way through the season but they have already shown they can win big but also come back from behind so I’m feeling good about this team. I expect an 11-5 or maybe even a 12-4 season if they keep this play up.

NFL’s disappointement of the week

I would love to put the Indianapolis Colts here even before their Monday night game tonight against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but I’ll leave the trophy on this weeks shelf Mr. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Once again another superb performance by the cool, calm and composed rookie who completed 27 of 46 passes for 374 yards and one touchdown while also rushing for a couple of goal line touchdowns.

But like most disappoints, this performance has a sad ending. The panthers outgained the bears in total yards 543 to 317 to no avail. Costly mistakes by Newton(an INT returned for a touchdown in the first quarter by D.J. Moore ), the special teams(Devin Hester ‘s NFL record tying 11th punt return for a touchdown) and a consistently poor run defense that allowed Matt Forte to shred them apart for 205 yards is what undoubtedly cost the Panthers a much needed win for the frustrated rookie Newton.

“I play the game and I want to win every single game I play,” said Newton, who sat by his locker for an extended period with a towel on his head. “Obviously, it hurts when I lose, but it’s not just me. We have guys on your team that you know they have given it all they got. For me, to some degree, I felt like I let some teammates down. But just to look into those guys eyes each and every play and to know those guys are battling, it just works wonders for our whole team and its chemistry.”

Let’s hope next week’s match-up against the New Orleans Saints can be a bit different against their spotty pass defense. This is a must-win game for the increasingly flustered rookie in need of some support.

Steve Slaton runs his way out of Houston

Arian Foster emerged in 2010, and Slaton was relegated to backup duty and returning kicks. Foster has been limited by a left hamstring strain early this season, and 2010 second-round pick Ben Tate topped 100 yards rushing in Houston’s first two games. Slaton has only seven carries for 20 yards this season.

Well it’s just as star spangled state figured and reports today confirmed that the Houston Texans have released running back Steve Slaton this Tuesday morning and  then signed Chris Ogbonnaya from the practice squad.

The 5-foot-9, 209-pound Slaton was a third-round pick in 2008 and was the NFL’s top rookie rusher with 1,282 yards. He rushed for 437 yards but fumbled seven times in 2009 and was placed on injured reserve after 11 games. He had neck surgery after the season, and never regained his form.

Houston coach Gary Kubiak said Monday that he’s optimistic that Foster will be ready when Houston (2-1) plays Pittsburgh (2-1) on Sunday.

Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher last season, has been inactive for two of Houston’s first three games.

“I hope he’s full-go,” Kubiak said. “I know he’s champing at the bit to get back on the field full-time and we’ll sit there and watch how he works and hopefully everything’s full speed.”

The 6-foot, 220-pound Ogbonnaya was the Texans’ leading rusher in the preseason and the only running back who avoided an injury during training camp. A former Texas star, Ogbonnaya was a seventh-round draft pick by St. Louis in 2009, then was cut last September.

Michael Vick-timized?

The Eagles backed off their diagnosis of Michael Vick‘s injured hand and the star quarterback relented on his pointed criticism of NFL referees.

A CT scan taken Monday showed that Vick only bruised his hand in Philadelphia’s 29-16 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. And later in the day, Vick said he won’t be complaining about the officials anymore a day after saying they are failing to protect him from late hits.

Speaking to reporters as he was leaving the Eagles’ facility on Monday, Vick said his hand is “still swollen, still sore” and displayed a large cast he is wearing. He also said he won’t be complaining about the referees anymore. On Sunday he blasted officials, saying he wants to be treated like other quarterbacks.

Vick said he respected the jobs the referees have to do and wouldn’t call them out again.

“The refs have to do their jobs and they have tons of things to look over,” he said. “I was kind of out of character and being too candid in that aspect. Ultimately I have respect for the referees and their decision to make calls … you won’t hear me complaining about it anymore.”

Earlier Monday, Eagles coach Andy Reid said X-rays taken during the game showed Vick may have had a fracture but a CT scan on Monday showed that Vick’s hand wasn’t broken.

“Today, he had a scan and it showed there was no break,” Reid said. “It was a blood vessel sitting above the bone. That happens at times with X-rays. The blood vessel makes it look like it was a fracture. There is still a bunch of swelling. It is sensitive to the touch. The positive is there is not a fracture there.”

It’s uncertain if Vick, who throws left-handed, will play when the Eagles (1-2) host the San Francisco 49ers (2-1) next Sunday.

“We will see how he does over the next couple of days,” Reid said. “We have to get the swelling where it is manageable and he feels comfortable.”

Reid wouldn’t say whether Mike Kafka or Vince Young would start if Vick can’t play against the 49ers.

“He always wants to play, that’s how he is,” Reid said of Vick. “He’s a competitive guy.”

Fantasy Studs

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said in interviews this week “he’s got everything.”

Lance Briggs called him “one of, if not the best quarterback in the league right now.”
But despite Aaron Rodgers’ 5-2 record as a starter (including the playoffs) against Chicago and reputation as one of the league’s top signal-callers, the Bears — somehow — have been largely successful at defending him.

Don’t think so?

Well, in seven career games against the Bears, Rodgers completed close to 67 percent of his passes, but threw just seven touchdowns compared to five interceptions, in addition to suffering 10 sacks. He’s averaged just 234.3 yards passing against the Bears, which falls short of his career average of 265.6 yards.

Urlacher credits the team’s success against Rodgers to the tendency for opposing quarterbacks to lose their patience against the Bears’ Cover-2 defense, which is designed to require passers to work the ball down the field with several short throws, as opposed to long heaves for large chunks of yardage.

“We do play a lot of Cover 2 against them,” Urlacher said. “I think they get a little frustrated. I’m not sure they do, but we think they do. So we keep doing it.”

That doesn’t mean the Bears plan to allow past success against Rodgers to creep into their psyche when it comes to trying to defend him.

After all, Rodgers’ career passer rating of 99.5 ranks him as the best of all time. Besides that, he’s torched both the Saints and Panthers through the first two weeks of the season, completing 70.8 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and no interceptions.

Rodgers currently owns a passer rating of 126.4, which ranks him second in the NFL behind Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady.

“he’s very poised for a guy who hasn’t started that many years for the Packers,” Briggs said. “He has a crazy amount of poise in the pocket, and then, he’s got some quick legs. The guy gets out of the pocket and he can outrun a lot of guys. He’s dangerous in a lot of ways.”

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli explained that the most lethal weapon in Rodger’s arsenal is his lightning-quick release, which cuts a rusher’s time to get to him, and simultaneously siphons away the precious few seconds it takes for a defensive back to make a break on the ball.

Green Bay’s solid offensive line, and athletic crew of receiving targets, only complicate matters for a Bears defense, which currently ranks 26th against the pass, and was torched for three touchdowns last week by Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

“He’s got an unbelievable release. The ball really comes out quick,” Marinelli said. “He’s a tremendous competitor. Then you add his mobility. When he breaks, boy, he’s tough. He’s accurate and he’ll run. But he is extremely accurate outside of the pocket. And you know, the other thing that helps him I think is the [team’s] run attempts. They go out and run, and you have to prepare in every personnel group to stop the run. The o-line is very physical too. So I think the balance really helps them.”

The last time the teams met, the Packers walked away victorious in the NFC title game, before later defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl. Many of the Bears avoid watching film of that 30-17 loss.

For them, perhaps the best way to erase that memory — at least temporarily — is to create a new one with a victory Sunday at Soldier Field. Bears coach Lovie Smith said he’s gone over the video from the NFC title game “just to try to pick up a few things,” adding that his players don’t need to re-watch the game to conjure up the bad memories.

“It’s a matter of preference,” said Smith, when asked if there’s anything to be gleaned from the players by re-watching the NFC championship. “You don’t forget that feeling. We don’t need to go back and watch the game. We all can go back into the moment right away, know what we were feeling at the end of the game. We remember that empty feeling at the end. The good thing about football is you get another chance.”

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