So Ricky Williams is officially a Toronto Argonaut. My first genuine, verbal, sincere and emotional response...this is great!
I am not 100% sure how his contract is structured and I am not 100% sure how it effects team chemistry. I do know that in the middle of an Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup run many people are talking about the CFL. The league needs a publicity boost - a topic of conversation that will rejuvenate interest and appreciation.
Last year in the CFL everything that could have gone right did. There was a hockey lockout, the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Maple Leafs were average at best and the 93rd Grey Cup was one of the best. The officiating had improved, there was salary cap talk being moved into reality and the Wendy's Kick for a Million was as successful as possible. Six months later the majority of those elements are a memory. The CFL needed something to take the focus away fro Ottawa and the cancellation of the Halifax exhibition game. Ricky Williams does that almost immediately.
I think it is important to understand this is not Lawrence Phillips part II. Phillips has a violence problem, while Williams has a desire for escapism. Those are two totally different issues and two totally different extremes.
Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban has been quoted as saying that he considers Ricky Williams one of the best combinations of player and person he has every known. As a matter of fact, he puts Williams in his top 5, which is significant in that it means he has given the judgment some thought - not a response to appease a suggestion.
When you consider the number of professional football players Saban has worked with while at Cleveland and now Miami and the number of college players he has worked with while at Michigan State and LSU there must be a side to Ricky Williams we do not know about. For Saban to reinforce the good in Williams says a lot and that is good enough for me.
Yes, in the world of character Williams is easy to criticize and I have been guilty of labeling him myself, but there is something about this I really like. Although I am not sure I know what it is, I do know it elevated my football enthusiasm the minute I found out he was an Argonaut.
From a football perspective Williams is a supreme talent. He is perfect in a single back set where he can pick and choose opportunities as he sees them approaching the line of scrimmage. Also, when he gets to the second level he will be attacking 215-pound outside linebackers in some situations, not the 250-pound linebackers found in the NFL. Williams has the option to run them over or run around them every time.
A key aspect of being a good running back is being able to catch the football. Williams is exceptional at that and he is more than willing to block.
Every team in the CFL has a proven quarterback and now every team in the CFL has a very good running back. The Toronto Argonauts may just have the best one of all.
I suppose if you had to look for the negative for the Argonauts there is only one football and Toronto has Williams, Robert Baker, Tony Miles, Arland Bruce, Andre Talbot, Kieth Stokes, Michael Palmer and R. Jay Soward. How do you keep everyone happy? Well, that is Kent Austin's challenge.
To sum things up, this should be fun. So many questions in how effective he will be and so many possibilities in what may go wrong. But the football business in part of the entertainment business and the CFL just became a show and a sport combined.
Good luck Ricky Williams. Play hard, stay clean and both you and the CFL will benefit.