Rocky's Football Corner, 11.21.2007

by Rick Rockwell*

Ricky Williams cannot save the Miami Dolphins.

For the few who may still care, Williams, once a dominant running back in the National Football League (NFL) began practicing today with the winless Dolphins. This is another example of how far a once proud franchise has slipped: they have to look to a quirky running back who has run up against the league’s drug policy four times to bring back a sense of hope.

For those who haven’t tracked Williams’ career, he did lead the league in rushing in 2002. But he retired from the Dolphins in 2004 rather than face a suspension for failing a drug test. (Most of Williams’ problems have been with marijuana.) Williams came out of retirement in 2005 and the Dolphins took him back after he served a suspension. But he played mostly in a reserve role. The league suspended him for the entire 2006 season because of yet another drug testing problem. Williams did play in Canada during 2006, but he was injured for part of the season and his mere presence stirred controversy and new rules for the Canadian Football League (CFL).

And now with the Dolphins at 0-10 for the season, after losing their quarterback and main running back to injury, they turn again to Williams.

Likely, the Dolphins will press Williams into service soon. New coach Cam Cameron doesn’t seem too thrilled about the controversial reacquisition of Williams, but if the Dolphins are going to trade Williams (at least one team has expressed interest) they must establish his worth. The Dolphins are in fire sale mode these days: they traded their best receiver Chris Chambers to the San Diego Chargers earlier in the season when it looked obvious their season was ruined.

It is ironic though that as the New England Patriots stalk the 1972 Dolphins’ record for the perfect season, the Dolphins seem to be chasing the league’s futility record of the winless season. (The Dolphins have a slight chance at a win next month when they face the under-performing New York Jets.)

Some though saw this coming (this author included). But who knew it would be to this degree? (Please note, the pre-season prediction that the Dolphins would be in rebuilding mode all year.)

The Dolphins have been slowly sinking ever since Wayne Huizenga acquired the team in the 1990s. Huizenga is responsible for forcing Coach Don Shula into retirement; Shula is only the coach with the best winning record in NFL history. Huizenga believed that luring fast-talking Jimmy Johnson out of retirement (Johnson is part of that unwatchable crew of football pundits on the FOX network now) would get the Dolphins back to the Super Bowl. Instead, Johnson, flashing his two championship rings from Dallas, did no better than Shula and actually hastened the retirement of the team’s best quarterback ever, Dan Marino.

Since Marino retired, the team has started 12 quarterbacks in the past seven years. The team is on its fourth coach since that retirement. The Dolphins even reached out to Marino to help fix the problems in 2004 and named him executive vice president of the team. Marino saw how messed up the team was and went back to his broadcasting jobs after only three weeks.

If South Florida wants to end the pain that the Dolphins now bring weekly, there is a solution. And it has nothing to do with Ricky Williams. The answer is simple: Fire Huizenga.

*Fair disclosure: the author of this piece was a fan of the Dolphins for 30 years, until the retirement of quarterback Dan Marino.

Week 12 Office Pool Predictions

Game of the Week: Ravens at Chargers (Chargers)
Upset Special: Broncos at Bears (Broncos)
Washington at Buccaneers (Buccaneers)
Texans at Browns (Browns)
Saints at Panthers (Panthers)
Eagles at Patriots (Patriots)
Raiders at Chiefs (Chiefs)
Titans at Bengals (Titans)
49ers at Cardinals (Cardinals)
Bills at Jaguars (Jaguars)
Seahawks at Rams (Seahawks)
Colts at Falcons (Colts)
Dolphins at Steelers (Steelers)
Packers at Lions (Packers)
Jets at Cowboys (Cowboys)
Vikings at Giants (Giants)

Last Week: .625
This Season: .675

For other blogs calling NFL games, please see:

(The mug shot of Ricky Williams is from a traffic arrest in Austin, Texas in 2000 when Williams was with the New Orleans Saints. The photo was obtained via The Smoking Gun and is in the public domain.)

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