Sunday, July 25, 2004

Stunning, unfathomable . . . are you KIDDING??? by Greg Cote

I'm too shocked to say much else at the moment.  But for now, here's some comments by the Miami Herald's Greg Cote. Of course, I'll be back with extensive commentary tomorrow.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/columnists/greg_cote/9237212.htm?ERIGHTS=-3919238298741585817miami::tsias@hotmail.com&KRD_RM=0igjnokphhigggggggghpjpiigTaylorY

The Dolphins' offseason turned Saturday from merely the worst and most chaotic in the NFL to perhaps the worst and most chaotic in the history of professional sports.

Ricky Williams retired.

Are you KIDDING?

The team's major offensive weapon retired -- just like that.

In his prime.

And on the doorstep of training camp.

Are you !@#$ing SERIOUS?

You know how the Heat suddenly acquiring Shaquille O'Neal produced a civic love-in and made confetti fly? Sort of like when the Marlins silenced Yankee Stadium to win the World Series last fall?

This is the stone-cold opposite.

This is the news so stunning as to be nearly unfathomable.

This is the news that sends an earthquake across the NFL, changing Vegas odds, reshaping perceptions and raising champagne toasts across the AFC East and among every upcoming opponent.

Saturday happened to be the Dolphins' ''Select-a-Seat'' day, by the way. Had fans known what Williams was in the process of making official to the team, ''Select-a-Method-of-Suicide'' might have been more appropriate.

You want to believe this is just Ricky being Ricky. You want to hope it's just Ricky the free spirit and the iconoclast making an emotional decision about which he'll change his mind in a week or two.

And that could happen, yes.

But you shouldn't bet on that any more than you should bet on the Dolphins' Super Bowl hopes now that the team's offensive focal point has chosen to make himself, well . . . disappear.

The notion that his heart no longer was in football has been fermenting in Williams for a few months, evidently sparked by his solo, soul-searching journey across Australia. This is not a snap decision.

So we must presume this is final -- that Williams, after two splendid seasons as the Dolphins' workhorse running back, is simply done, vanished in his prime.

CONFLICTED REACTION

The emotional reaction to that decision is wildly conflicted. Has to be.

Part of you wants to applaud Williams for standing so singularly apart from the crowd, for purely following his heart. This part of you wants to say, ``Good for you, Ricky!''

That's so simple, though. So simple, when his actions, and the timing of them, have made everything so complicated.

Williams should not be doing this -- not now.

That's what keeps pulsing like ugly neon.

NOBLE AND SELFISH

Williams should not be running out on his teammates and on the dreams of so many fans with training camp just a few days away.

Can a man's decision seem so noble and so selfish all at once?

Can we wish Williams all of the inner peace that apparently has eluded him and at the same time damn him for leaving an entire franchise in the lurch?

Had Williams made his intentions firmly known even a week ago, the team could have scrambled to somehow replace him. Eddie George, released by Tennessee for salary-cap reasons, briefly was available before Dallas scooped him up. Earlier in the offseason Corey Dillon was available.

Now? Now there isn't much the Dolphins can do.

Coach Dave Wannstedt is furious.

You know what? He has a right to be.

This is unprecedented, or at least lost to recent memory.
Pat Riley resigned as Heat coach on the eve of last NBA season, and that was sudden, and shocking, but different. The Heat had a coach ready to step in. And coaches don't matter as much as star players.

INTEGRAL, HUGE ROLE

Williams retiring is more akin to Peyton Manning quitting the Colts tomorrow. Williams' role on this team is -- was -- that integral, that huge.

We are supposed to think now that Travis Minor plugs into Williams' starter's role and that everything will be fine.

We are supposed to hope that this somehow might actually make the Dolphins better, because less reliance on one back might open up the passing game.

Any such optimism is pretty far-fetched at the moment.

All we can know for sure is that the onus on Jay Fiedler and A.J. Feeley just got monstrously larger. One of them had better emerge not just as a capable starter but as a force to lead this offense.

No form of sugarcoating is working here right now.

Ricky Williams quitting on the Dolphins -- now, like this -- is a lightning bolt of a sporting disaster.

2 Comments:

Blogger Eric Cioffoletti said...

Impressive reporting. These reporters are woken up by their editors at like 1:00 in the morning and are expected to put together an interesting story in just minutes. This story sums everything up very well.

July 25, 2004 at 3:04 AM  
Blogger tsias said...

Yeah, reporters can put together work on pretty quick notice. In this case, I'd care to guess that he did have a few extra hours. Even though the news was reported at 1:00 am, they probably knew early that evening there was a story breaking.

July 27, 2004 at 5:32 AM  

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