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Source: Williams will not return this year

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Ricky Williams abruptly retired from
the Miami Dolphins last summer because he disagreed with the NFL
over a disputed drug test. Williams now wants to play again.

Attorney David Cornwell said Thursday the league "took a
position regarding that test that we thought was inappropriate."

"What we challenged was the testing and the specimen from last
December's testing," Cornwell said after a 90-minute meeting with
two NFL officials and a union representative aimed at resuming the
star running back's career.

"It was important to have us all in the same room," Cornwell
said. "In the course of the last 10 months, there have been
various discussions between the parties. I'm going to make a formal
proposal for Ricky to resume his career as soon as possible.

"My preference is that he was able to play last week."

But one of the men that was in the meeting told ESPN's Andrea Kremer: "Ricky Williams is not going to play this year."

Williams did not attend the meeting. Cornwell said his client is
taking classes in Northern California and refused to elaborate.

"He had a class today -- I spoke to him right after the
meeting," Cornwell said.

An arbitrator ruled last month that Williams, 27, must repay
more than $8.6 million to the Dolphins for breaching his contract.
Cornwell said as far as he's concerned, that has nothing to do with
Williams' desire to return.

"My assessment is he wants to play football," Cornwell said.

The Miami Herald has quoted Williams as saying he has failed
three drug tests -- in May 2002, last December, and sometime last
spring.

A second positive test calls for a player to be fined his salary
for four games and a third results in a four-game suspension
without pay.

A first or second failed test is not made public.

At issue is whether Williams decided to retire as a result of
learning he was facing a four-game suspension.

"I'm not going to go into the specifics of our rationale,"
Cornwell said. "We had a point of view; the NFL had a different
point of view."

That being the case, Cornwell said he didn't believe Williams
should face a suspension upon returning.

"Ricky made the decision to retire. Clearly, Ricky overreacted
as things unfolded," Cornwell said. "But for that
misunderstanding, he would not have retired. This was a human who
had a particularly emotional reaction to a set of circumstances.

"I've seen hundreds of reports concerning what this was about.
None of them are right. As far as I know, he never wanted to stop
playing football. The issue was not whether he wanted to play
football. The issue was the implications of his continuing to play
football."

After announcing his retirement, Williams told the Herald his
desire to continue smoking marijuana played a role in his decision
to stop playing after five NFL seasons -- three with New Orleans and
two with the Dolphins.

Williams rushed for 3,225 yards in two seasons with the
Dolphins, currently the NFL's only winless team with an 0-6 record.

Cornwell said he wasn't qualified to say if Williams was in
playing shape, but added: "I think he looks great. I think his
mood is excellent. I view him as being in great spirits, very
engaged in this process, anxious to get back at it."

Asked if Williams wanted to return to the Dolphins, Cornwell
replied: "He's under contract with the Dolphins and wants to play
football."

Regarding the anger some Miami players have expressed over
Williams' abrupt retirement, Cornwell said: "I think that he
realizes there is some reaching out to do. He also recognizes that
has to be done privately."

The trade deadline passed earlier this week, so Williams can't
be dealt elsewhere until after the season.

Dennis Curran, senior vice president and general counsel for the
NFL, attended the meeting along with Reaphel Prevot of the league
office and Stacy Robinson of the players' union.

"We met at their request and listened to what they had to say,
and we will review it," Curran said. "We answered fully every
question they asked."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.