Arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled Friday that Williams must repay
$8,616,353 in bonus money under the contract he left behind when he
shocked the Dolphins and their fans with his sudden retirement last
month. The contract ran through 2007.
"We are pleased that Mr. Bloch has confirmed that Ricky
Williams breached his contract with the Dolphins and is required to
repay compensation," NFL senior vice president/general counsel
Dennis Curran said.
"This decision is consistent with many other cases that have
affirmed the right of NFL clubs and players to negotiate
compensation based on the player's fulfillment of the contract,"
The Dolphins declined comment Friday, saying they only talk
about players on their roster.
Williams' agent, Leigh Steinberg, didn't immediately return a phone message left Friday.
The Dolphins had filed a grievance against Williams, asking an
arbitrator to uphold their contractual right to recover the money
paid to him between the signing bonus and incentives. Before the
grievance, the Dolphins mailed a letter to Williams asking him to
report or pay the money back.
Williams also called the team, telling them he would come back
if he received a new contract. The Dolphins declined that request.
Williams has given many reasons why he called Dolphins coach
Dave Wannstedt days before workouts were to begin in July to tell
him he was quitting. At different times, Williams has expressed
displeasure with his contract, an excessive workload and new
offensive coordinator Chris Foerster.
It was not immediately known what would happen if Williams
declared bankruptcy or decided to return to the team.
But even if Williams, 27, wanted to return, he faces
a suspension for the entire 2004 season for violating the NFL drug
policy. He has acknowledged testing positive for marijuana three