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Ricky Williams, Former NFL Running Back

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
May 18, 2023 6:52 pm

Ricky Williams, Former NFL Running Back

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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May 18, 2023 6:52 pm

Ricky Williams joined Zach to discuss if running backs are being undervalued in the NFL and which quarterbacks in today's game he would love to play with. 

JR Sport Brief
JR Sport Brief
JR Sport Brief

We continue this exact Yelp show coast to coast on CBS Sports Radio.

Let's head out to the guest line Always Fun to chat with this man. That's the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner. That of course is Ricky Williams who's here today on behalf of Panini.

And you can get Panini's NFL trading card products featuring members of this year's rookie class online at, hobby shops nationwide, and retailers including Walmart and Target. Ricky Williams, great to hear your voice again. How you been?

Wonderful. Great to talk to you again. Thanks for having me. Well, I appreciate you coming back on. So tell me today what you're doing with Panini.

Oh, this is great. I mean, I'm here at the rookie, the rookie premiere, and I just spent some time with Bijan, my fellow Longhorns, catching up a little bit. And I've been with Panini. I used to be Don Russ for over 20 years, and it's been a very fruitful relationship for both sides. And anytime I get an opportunity to come and show my face and show support, I always jump at it.

And so I'm here with the rookies representing Panini. Well, you talked about Bijan Robinson, clearly the Texas connection there. What advice do you give him when someone like Bijan Robinson just gets drafted eighth overall by the Falcons?

The biggest thing is take care of your body. Bijan's a big, tough running back, quick, elusive, got a lot of explosiveness. So he's probably going to get the ball a lot. And so I just say you got the talent, you just got to make sure you're taking care of your body. When he went eighth overall to Atlanta, and now I feel like the running back position gets devalued a bit and people are surprised when a running back goes that early in the first round.

How did you kind of process that one? Well, I mean, I'm a running back, so I've been waiting for people to appreciate the position. And I think definitely we saw what Saquon Barkley did this past year. I think he justified taking that kind of explosive running back who can do things in the passing game early in the first round. And catching up with Bijan, he talked about the way he's going to be using that offense. He's going to be more than just a running back. So I cannot wait to see what they do with him.

Yeah, the expectations are so high. With your running back background, just what kind of player do you see and what type of player do you think he could be in the NFL? I think I mentioned Saquon Barkley and I think he can be that kind of player that can take over a game and it can break the long run. He can catch balls on third down. I think he's just going to be a weapon.

And hopefully, again, if he stays healthy and the Falcons can find a way to get the most out of him, I think he's going to be a superstar in this league. I was a little disappointed, Ricky Williams, with your alma mater. I was expecting this epic quarterback competition all throughout the summer. Waited until Game 1 and then Sarc came out and said Quinn Ewers is going to be the starter. Clearly a lot of buzz with Texas with Quinn Ewers and also Arch Manning now in the program. Were you at all disappointed when you found out that quarterback competition wrapped up so quickly?

I wasn't. I was at the Alabama game to open the season last year and I saw what Quinn could do. My take is if he's won the position this early, it's because he's ready to pick up where he left off against Bama.

Do you know what the expectations are? Everyone's looking for Texas to get back to their glory days and when you bring in a Manning, that hype is just going to be times a million. What advice would you give to Arch Manning as he gets ready for his freshman year?

I'd say enjoy it. I would say envision yourself being a superstar. If you look at the best Texas team, they had a Heisman Trophy candidate on the team. They had a superstar and I think that's what a school like Texas needs to get back. Ricky Williams here with us. When you brought up that you're talking to the young rookies that just got drafted on behalf of Panini, I go back to your draft class which was a pretty damn good one in 1999. There was so much talk about you going into that draft as you know Ricky. When the Colts were on the clock and they take a running back, Edron James who went on to have a Hall of Fame career, what was your reaction about that in the moment?

I'm sure it's on YouTube. If you go back, you'll see me mouth a bad word. It was rough because I was really excited at the possibility of being the first overall pick and going to Cleveland. I just think the dog pound and it was their first year back as an expansion team. And so I thought that was the perfect fit, but they took 10 couch and then the bingles took a Keeley. I knew I wasn't going into being with that court Dylan. And I thought there could be a chance that I go, I'm sorry, two went to, it was the Eagles and they drafted Donovan.

So I thought I was going to be an Eagle. I really liked Andy Reid was head coach at the time. I really liked his office and I thought I could excel in offense and then a third pick with the bingles. I knew they weren't taking me. They took a Keeley and I knew, I knew in my heart that I was going for to the Colts and when they took Adrian great player, obviously you said how fame, but I was heartbroken. But you know, quickly got better when, when coach Jacob made the move and traded everything, everything, literally everything to, to get me.

Yeah. We'll get back to that selection in just a second, but you mentioned Philadelphia. We know their fans were there. They wanted to see you get drafted second overall. They booed McNabb when he rocked across the stage. Now he went to second overall pick, but in that moment, did you at all like feel bad for him? This is his moment. He's getting drafted second overall. You thought there was a chance that he could get there.

And when he walks across the stage in New York, he gets booed. No, I mean, if I'm being honest, no, I didn't feel bad for him, but, but I've, I've gotten to know him ever since. And you know, he should be in the Hall of Fame. So, you know, it's good to say that the guys that went, or at least two of the guys that went in front of me, I think will be ended up in the Hall of Fame. So when you find out that the saints trade up to go get you at five and they gave up their entire draft class and then some, how did, when did that hit you? Like, did that hit you in the moment knowing how much they gave up to go select Ricky Williams?

No, I don't think I appreciated it. And at the time, I think I thought it was too much, you know, because the saints at that time, you know, they just barely missed the playoffs and they were really on the verge of, of making it to the next level. And I think it would have been helpful to have a couple more picks that year. And you see, you know, Ditka was fired that year and the next year we actually won the first playoff game in Saints history. And the Saints have for the most part been good ever since then. So we were close. We were really close.

Yeah. And when the hype is that great and they give up so much to get you, it's almost impossible to meet those expectations. Like we're seeing it now in basketball, the draft lottery just happened.

Victor Wimbunyama is going to be the number one overall pick. And people are saying that if he's Kevin Durant or Akeem Olajuwon, that would be a disappointment, which is just ludicrous to me. When you had those expectations that were so high, and you've talked about this throughout the year, just how difficult was that to manage those expectations? You know, the truth is, and you can see in the way I negotiated my contract, is I had higher expectations, I think, of myself than the fans did. And, you know, it took me getting traded to Miami to be able to fulfill those expectations.

But eventually I did. And, you know, I battled a lot of injuries and, you know, hence my advice to Bijan, take care of your body, because I didn't learn that until later in my career. And how do you look back at the rest of that rookie experience, when you look back at it all these years later? Well, I was just hurt, and so I had toughness. You know, it taught me how to be tough.

I think that's the silver lining when you go through any kind of difficult experiences, is you prove to yourself that you can overcome, and then you can do it. And, you know, from high school all the way through college, I don't think I missed one game. In my first two years in the NFL, I missed ten games. So, it made me tougher, and I think it helped me play. I played 11 years.

And so I think it helped me stay tough enough to have a long and prosperous career. When you view the Tua-Tunga-Wailoa situation, talking about injuries and all the concussions that he's dealt with, we know Miami on paper, they have an offense that looks unbelievable, but everyone wonders if the quarterback can get through the entire season without suffering a concussion. Just how do you kind of view that situation with the Dolphins and Tua-Tunga-Wailoa? I mean, if I'm the Dolphins, I spend a lot of money on the offensive line. Because, you know, Tua was great last year, but it's difficult, you know, as well as he played, if you know that there's one play away from losing him for the season. You know, and I'm not thinking short term. I'm about to turn 46, and so long term, you realize when you're young, you don't realize it. But as you get older, you realize all the concussions and the damage we do to our bodies, it catches up to us.

So, I'm really hoping that they protect him, and he learns to protect himself so that he can stay healthy in the short term and the long term. When you look at some of the quarterbacks in the league right now, who are some quarterbacks that you would have loved to be on the same team with and share the backfield with? I think for a running back, having a quarterback who's mobile and who can convert third downs, because the most important stat for a running back is third down conversions.

Because if the team is converting third downs, it means more opportunities to run the ball. So, Lamar Jackson is number one on my list. Do you think Lamar could go win a Super Bowl in this league? Because he just got paid, and that's not the big question. We've seen him win a unanimous MVP, but can he go get that Super Bowl for the Ravens?

Not by himself, but I think if he gets some weapons around him and the Ravens keep playing good defense like they always have, I definitely think he can. Ricky Williams, before we let you run, you're doing great work with Panini. Obviously when people hear your name, they associate it with the very high class and many legendary names in football with what you did during your career. What is that like for you all these years later when you talk to some of these younger players now getting ready to embark on their journey on behalf of Panini to just really look at you? And they're probably in awe when Ricky Williams walks in the room. I try to get through that as fast as possible because, especially in this situation, they're surrounded by a lot of people who haven't been in their situation. I take it as an honor to be a person that has and that can talk to them in a real way about what's coming up. I always try to give them some empowering and inspiring words because it's tough. Playing professional football is really difficult. In the rookie premiere, they've had minicamps and they're about to start OTAs, but they haven't had the NFL experience, so they're still raw. I like to get them ready for what's coming. Once again, you can get Panini's NFL trading card products featuring members of this year's rookie class online at

Hobby shops nationwide and retailers including Walmart and Target. He is Ricky Williams. Ricky, always great to catch up with you. Thank you. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-18 20:11:54 / 2023-05-18 20:17:21 / 5

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