OWINGS MILLS -- Veteran running back Ricky Williams has decided to retire and has informed the Baltimore Ravens of his plans.
Williams rushed for 444 yards and two touchdowns last season as the primary backup to Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice.
"The NFL has been an amazing page in this chapter of my life," Williams said. "I pray that all successive adventures offer me the same potential for growth, success and most importantly, fun. I want to thank all my fans, teammates, coaches and supporters for the strength they've given me to overcome so much. I want to especially thank my family, coach Mack Brown, coach [Mike] Ditka, coach [Bill] Parcells, Ronnie Brown, Wilbert Montgomery and the Jamail Family for believing in me. As for what's next, I am excited about all the opportunities ahead - continuing my education, running The Ricky Williams Foundation and whatever other opportunities present themselves.
"My football career has been filled with many great memories going back to pee wee football with coach Tom Miller, [San Diego's] Patrick Henry High School and coach Jerry Varner and on to the University of Texas. It has been a big part of my life and blessed me with so many wonderful opportunities and the chance to connect with many people who have helped me grow and mature. I will miss the game, the camaraderie, my teammates and especially the emotions of a big victory. I love the game and leave it feeling fulfilled, proud, in great health and excited about the future. I have to thank coach [John] Harbaugh and the Ravens organization for the opportunity they gave me this year. I had so much fun and really appreciated the chance to finish on such a great note."
Williams rushed for 10,009 career yards and 66 touchdowns, catching 342 passes for 2,606 yards and eight touchdowns.
Williams played in the NFL for 11 seasons and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2002 when he rushed for a career-high 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Williams signed a two-year, $2.6 million contract that included a $100,000 signing bonus and a $1.5 million base salary in 2012.
The Ravens save $1.5 million against the salary cap with his retirement.
The Ravens drafted Anthony Allen in the seventh round out of Georgia Tech last year and also have former University of Miami running back Damien Berry on the roster.
There's always the possibility that Williams could change his mind, but, for now, he's retiring.
"I was a big fan of Ricky before we were teammates, but being around him this year is the best thing that happened to me in my NFL career," Rice said. "As a young player, you need to be around a guy who knows what he is doing, and Ricky was tremendous to learn from. The way he took care of his body and the way he prepared, he always showed that he is a true professional. This past season with him is a year I will never forget. I had the best year with him beside me, and that was no accident. I believe that Ricky Williams is a Hall of Famer. All that he has done in his career, he deserves that. I was honored to share the field with him when he went over 10,000 yards. What an amazing accomplishment, as he is one of the best. I will miss him, but I wish him and his family well."
"Ricky is one of the most productive rushers in league history, and he was a tremendous asset to our team this past season," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We enjoyed having him as a member of the Ravens, as his leadership, work ethic and commitment contributed to our success. We are grateful for his contributions, and we wish him nothing but the best going forward."
Added John Harbaugh: "Ricky, in his time here, made a valuable and lasting contribution. I especially enjoyed getting to know him as a person, and I have the utmost respect for him. He was great to be around and to work with every single day. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."