And Williams was no longer present. He couldn't tell you whether he smoked weed because he didn't want to play football or whether he didn't want to play football because he wanted to smoke weed. Williams was seriously conflicted. There's no inner conflict in football, so Williams left.
That was a good reason to leave. That was the best reason to leave. If you aren't into it, you can't help anyone, least of all your team.
Let's talk about team. I'm one of the few people around here who actually knows what it's like to play on a football team. Let me tell you what that means in relation to Ricky Williams: After Sunday's five- carry, 9-yard performance, I wouldn't be pleased to see him struggle. I'd be glad he was thrown the ball several times because that's the best way to get him involved. But I wouldn't want to see him struggle between the tackles.
Real teammates on real teams don't want one another to struggle -- not if they're trying to win. I played on some bad teams in my career, both in college and in the pros, but I never played on a team in which the players wanted a teammate to fail -- or a player was punished for having pride and self-respect. Without pride and self-respect, an athlete isn't an athlete. Is he even a man?
Ricky Williams is a man. And he's my kind of teammate.
Alan Grant is a regular contributor to ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. He is a former NFL defensive back who played college football at Stanford.