Williams to meet with NFL on Thursday

Updated: October 20, 2004, 5:11 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DAVIE, Fla. -- Retired running back Ricky Williams is scheduled to meet Thursday with the NFL to seek permission to immediately rejoin the Miami Dolphins, despite his multiple violations of the league's substance abuse program.

 Ricky Williams

William David Cornwell, an attorney representing Williams, and the NFL Players Association will also attend the meeting in California.

While it is unclear who specifically will be representing the league at the meeting, commissioner Paul Tagliabue will not be one of them, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported.

"We are anxious to present the case for permitting Ricky to rejoin the Miami Dolphins this year and to clarify his status under the league's substance abuse program," Cornwell said in a statement Monday.

In July, Williams said he learned shortly before retiring that he had failed a drug test for marijuana -- his third violation in the program since 2002.

Because of the violations and Williams' subsequent retirement, the Dolphins say their understanding is that he is suspended for the entire season. The NFL has declined to comment.

If Williams were to play this year, it would likely be with Miami, because the league trade deadline is Tuesday.

The Dolphins haven't won a game since the 2002 NFL rushing champion retired. At 0-6, they're the league's lone winless team and off to the worst start in their 39-year history.

The departure of Williams, who rushed for 3,225 yards and 25 touchdowns in two years in Miami, has left an enormous void in the Dolphins backfield. Miami has used Travis Minor, Lamar Gordon, Leonard Henry and Sammy Morris at the position in the first six games.

Cornwell declined to address Williams' motivation for coming out of retirement.

"It is not appropriate to discuss our rationale for rejoining the Dolphins until after the NFL and NFLPA hear from us directly," Cornwell said.

Contributing to the change of heart was an arbitration ruling Sept. 24 that Williams must repay more than $8.6 million to the Dolphins for breaching his contract. He has done without his $3.5 million salary while traveling in Australia and Asia.

Williams retired in part because he wanted to be free to travel abroad. He has admitted that marijuana played a small role in his decision to retire. Williams said he was not addicted to the drug, but didn't believe in laws banning its use.

"I didn't quit football because I failed a drug test; I failed a drug test because I was ready to quit football," Williams said.

Known for his interesting and complex nature off the field and for his dreadlocks on it, Williams has always expressed a dislike for living his life in the spotlight. In 2001, he was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.

Williams said marijuana helped him once he stopped using the anti-depressant drug Paxil because it didn't agree with his diet.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.