Former Ravens running back Ricky Williams, who retired from the NFL earlier this offseason, kept a low profile during his one season in Baltimore. But now that Williams has walked away from football -- for forever, he swears -- he has used his celebrity to speak out against the way the NFL is addressing its concussion crisis.
Williams, who rushed for 444 yards and two touchdowns last season and eclipsed the 10,000-yard mark for his career, appeared on Tuesday’s episode of ESPN’s “Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable” to discuss his take on concussions, and the 34-year-old believes there is no link between the sport of football and head trauma.
Early in the interview, Williams said he had no idea how many concussions he had sustained in his career.
“I'm not a really big fan of the way the NFL is handling concussions,” he said. “Maybe I'm stupid or whatever, but to me if I got a concussion, if I could see straight and I could carry a football then I'm not telling anybody.”
Williams was asked to expand on how the NFL is handling the issue.
“From what I've seen, they’re all about prevention, but can you prevent a concussion?” he said. “I mean, yeah, you can definitely have safer helmets, and I had I think the safest helmet when I played, and I think you can definitely pay more attention. But ultimately, it's about the players. I think all this attention to prevention, it seems like they haven't done anything because they don't believe they can actually treat a concussion."
Williams said he wouldn’t want a doctor to tell him he has brain trauma, and that he doesn’t see a link between football and concussions.
"I don't buy it,” he said. “I'm only speaking from my personal experience, and because I’ve never allowed myself to buy it, and I haven't been affected. And yes, I'm aware that football is a rough sport, but instead of saying, 'Oh, I'm doomed to brain trauma," I said, 'What can I do about this?' ...
“If we're going to spend six months brutalizing our bodies intensely, I said, ‘Well, that makes sense. In the offseason, I'm going to spend six months taking care of my body very intensely.’ I started to equip myself with tools. I started practicing yoga. I started learning some hands-on healing stuff. And I found really good chiropractors, really good massage therapists, and what I found is I’ve been able to actually peel off layers of trauma on my body and actually move better now than I did."
Pressed for more clarification by Le Batard, Williams said that the league’s money would be better spent on improved health care and alternative healing. He believes that science in the future will ultimately reinforce his beliefs, and he pointed out that in hindsight, scientists of centuries ago got their fair share of things incorrect.
But Williams -- who said he embraces being called “weird” -- did concede that, “Ten years from now, I might be completely walking on the street, scratching my head and yelling out profanities, but right now, I feel fine. I don’t even feel a little bit of the effects of playing football.”
If you want to watch Ricky’s appearance, here’s a link.