Posted: 11:33 pm Monday, January 3rd, 2011
An angry, reflective Ricky Williams says he’s likely done with the Dolphins, doesn’t hold back on criticism of Tony Sparano and teammates
By Post Staff
An admittedly angry Ricky Williams took to the radio airwaves Monday night, a day after the Dolphins finished a frustrating 2010 season with a 38-7 loss to New England, and he didn’t hold back his true feelings about head coach Tony Sparano, his teammates and the Dolphins’ current culture.
Williams, speaking on his weekly radio spot with WQAM-560′s Sid Rosenberg, criticized Sparano on several fronts – questioning his philosophies, criticizing his “micromanaging” coaching style, accusing the Dolphins of being ill-prepared for their game against the Patriots and saying that Sparano lost the locker room at the end of the season, despite repeated votes of confidence from the players.
“Usually when players are talking and saying the right things, it means that they’re full of s***,” Williams said.
Williams, 33, also said that he has almost certainly played his last game with the Dolphins, after nine roller-coaster years associated with the team. Williams, who rushed just 159 times in 16 games for 673 yards and two touchdowns, said he wants to “have a chance to play a lot and be a part of something big next year.”
Williams expressed frustration that he didn’t have a big enough role – “this whole season I haven’t taken one Advil,” he said – and that ideally he would play for a team that is “changing things around.” He said the Dolphins were in that phase in 2008, when Sparano, Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells first came to town to turn around a 1-15 team, but no longer.
“It seems like now is time to move on,” Williams said. “I was drafted in 1999, and this is the first time I’ve been a free agent. I’m excited to see what happens.”
Williams did not exactly give a ringing endorsement for Sparano, whose job is on the line after his team finished its second consecutive 7-9 season.
He said playing for the Dolphins under Sparano is “not a great fit for me.”
“It was an experience for me, and I learned a lot about myself and I got better as a football player, but at the same time, I didn’t enjoy it,” he said. “For me it’s about playing football, it’s about having a good time and it’s about working hard.”
Williams admitted that several players in the locker room are unhappy with Sparano and his intense coaching style, though he added that the players “unequivocally” have “tons of respect for Tony.” Williams declined to speak to local reporters about football matters throughout the season, choosing instead to fulfill his media obligations via his weekly radio show.
“You can’t go 7-9 and say everyone loves what we’re doing,” Williams said. “And I think any time you don’t have success and you’re not winning, people are going to be unhappy, and they’re not going to love what they’re doing and they’re not going to buy into it and believe it.”
Williams said the players are having a hard time believing Sparano’s message after two straight losing seasons, and said he can be too repetitive and nitpicky.
“Tony goes through a lot of effort to show us the things it takes to win football games,” Williams said. “Not turning the ball over, converting third downs, scoring in the Red Zone. He spends a lot of time saying, ‘If you do these things, you win.’ And sometimes I feel personally that he does a little bit too much. My personal opinion is if you have the right attitude that you guys are going to win, then all that other stuff takes care of itself.”
“Coach (Nick) Saban had a saying – he said, ‘We’re worried about mouse manure, when we have elephant s*** all over the place,’” Williams added. “I want to really start focusing on what I want to accomplish and what it is I want to achieve, but not micromanaging this or that and focusing on the little things. It’s keeping my eye on the prize and putting myself in a supporting environment and going to work every day with a smile on my face.”
After these remarks, Rosenberg told Williams that he looks angry and pissed.
“You’re very observant,” Williams said. “Luckily I’ve noticed it, and I’m not taking it out on my wife.”
Williams criticized the team’s preparation for Sunday’s shellacking in New England. They were officially eliminated from the playoffs after a Week 15 loss to Buffalo, and lost the two games thereafeter.
“It’s like we weren’t prepared, we didn’t show up,” he said. “I had a little bit of a sense during the week of practice that we weren’t maybe as focused or preparing as well as we needed to.”
Williams said he is still angry about the way the 2010 season ended, with the Dolphins going 1-7 at home and losing their final three games of the regular season. Losing to the Patriots, who finished 14-2 and could win their fourth Super Bowl in 10 years, made Williams angrier about his situation in Miami.
“Usually after a rough season there’s a sense of relief when it’s over with, but I didn’t feel like that,” he said. “It’s the contrast with what they have going on in New England and what we have going on here, and it’s a very stark contrast.”
“They had less to play for than we did … and they played harder than any team we played all year, and I just expect that from my team,” Williams said. He added, “I’m not angry at my teammates. I’m angry at the situation. That’s the coaches, myself, teammates, that’s everyone. That’s the whole environment that we have there, and I’m just frustrated that it’s not better.”
Williams gave the example of Rob Ninkovich, whom Sparano and the Dolphins cut in 2008, as a player who thrived in a more positive environment. Ninkovich had three sacks and two interceptions against the Dolphins this year as the Patriots’ starting outside linebacker.
“It’s not based on him necessarily making plays, it’s just based on him buying into a winning tradition,” Williams said.
Williams didn’t save his criticisms for just Sparano, however.
When asked about the main difference between the Patriots and Dolphins, he replied, “They have a quarterback.” Chad Henne finished the season with 15 touchdowns and 19 interceptions and was benched twice.
And he was critical of Brandon Marshall for the way he spoke and acted negatively toward Henne in recent weeks.
“Being around Brandon a lot – I like the guy, I think the world of him – but as a teammate, sometimes he makes it difficult to like him and support him,” Williams said. “It’s not necessarily what he says, it’s when he says it and the way he says it. But for the most part the things that he says are things that everyone else wants to say, but no one has the courage, or the balls. And some of it is intelligence – they’re smart enough not to say those things, because they don’t want to burn bridges. But when you have $50 million, then you can get away with whatever you want.”
Williams, who surpassed Larry Csonka on Sunday as the Dolphins’ all-time leader in rushing attempts (1,509), reflected on the chaos of his eight seasons in Miami, which included a franchise-record 1,853 rushing yards, a sudden retirement in 2004, a year-long drug suspension, extended trips to Canada and Australia, one playoff appearance and a re-birth under the current regime, setting an NFL record in 2009 for most years between 1,000-yard rushing seasons (six).
He even managed to throw another backhanded comment while saying that playing for the Dolphins has somewhat fulfilled a childhood fantasy. Williams, who grew up in San Diego, said he always enjoyed watching Chargers-Dolphins games as a child.
“Just the fact that the Dolphins were always good, you know, and there was a tradition that was built,” he said. “And the tradition is gone, or it’s on hiatus right now. But when I got here, playing with guys like Jason (Taylor) and Zach (Thomas), it was awesome. Just their professionalism, and the way they played the game, it was incredible.”
Williams said he plans on travelling a lot this offseason – his big trip will be to Machu Pichu in Peru this March – and lately he has been studying Hebrew and observing the Jewish Sabbath. He spends the 24 hours from Friday night to Saturday night relaxing at home and reading books.
Finally, when asked if he will watch the NFL playoffs, Williams dropped one more dagger on the Dolphins.
“I like watching the Jets play,” he said. “Because of LT. I’m an LT fan. And I like the fact that the Jets run the ball.”