Ricky Williams excited about Toronto return

December, 3, 2008
12/03/08
8:14
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams has been a media hermit for the past nine weeks, occasionally speaking after games.

But Williams on Wednesday was happy to talk about Toronto, the city that embraced him while he was trying to put his football career back together amid positive drug tests and flights of fancy.

Photo/Frank Gunn
Dolphins running back Ricky Williams will be back at his old stomping ground when Miami plays Buffalo in Toronto this Sunday. Williams played for the Toronto Argonauts in 2006.
Williams played for the Toronto Argonauts in 2006. A broken arm limited him to 11 games, but he ran for 526 yards in the pass-happy Canadian Football League.

Williams held a conference call with the Buffalo and Toronto media to talk about Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills in the Rogers Centre, the same stadium the Argos call home.

What are your thoughts on going back to Toronto?

Williams: Well, I'm looking forward to it. I really enjoyed my time in Toronto, and it will be nice to meet up with some old friends.

How does playing in Toronto affect home-field advantage for the Bills?

Williams: I don't know. I mean, it's pretty tough to go and play in Buffalo. I'm not sure if the room is going to be open or closed. I mean, it's usually tough for us to come up there and deal with the cold. So if I think that the room is closed, it's not as big of a home field advantage for them.

How important was Toronto was to getting your career back on track?

Williams: Well, I guess I didn't look at it like that. I just had a really good time. I got to meet a lot of great people, and I just really enjoyed myself in Toronto.

How important is the CFL to Canada?

Williams: I don't know. I'm an American, so I'm not sure how important it is to Canada, but I know that each town we went to, including the hometown fans, when you went to a game, the people there, they're true fans. Sometimes, especially in Miami, you get people who only come when you're winning and they're not necessarily big football fans. But going to places, especially like Hamilton and Regina, Calgary ... Just really, really huge football fans, and it was just a lot of fun being in that environment week in and week out.

What has the Dolphins' turnaround been like?

Williams: It's nice. I wasn't really here much last year, so I didn't have to deal with that so much. And coming in with the whole new coaching staff and a new philosophy, they've really done a good job to get the bitter taste from last year out of everyone's mouth. And we've just been focused, and we work hard everyday. We're a hard working team, and it's paying off for us.

What have been the keys to the Dolphins' success?

Williams: I think just really how we work hard. I mean one of the first things coach [Tony] Sparano wanted to convey to us is that if you work hard, then you get results. And so far he's been right, and no matter what happens, as we go through so much adversity, we just keep on working and we've been able to win a lot of games that way.

Is it hard to overlook the fact Tony Sparano is just a first-year coach?

Williams: Whether he is a first-year coach or a 10 year coach, he still yells everyday. We still have to listen to him. So it doesn't affect us too much.

Have you kept in touch with the Toronto Argonauts' front office?

Williams: Well, [Argos owner David Cynamon] was down in Miami a few weeks ago, and he came to the game and our families had dinner together after the game, and that was nice. And I actually had a dream last night about [former Argos president] Keith Pelley. So they're definitely in my thoughts, and anytime I get a chance I'm definitely in contact with them.

What was the dream was about?

Williams: Somehow he was working in New Orleans, and he was complaining about how hot it was in New Orleans. So that was pretty much the whole dream. But it was nice to see him.

Would you return to Toronto after you're done playing?

Williams: If I had the opportunity and it worked well for my family and myself, I would definitely jump at the opportunity. I mean David and I joked about it when he was down here a couple weeks ago.

What could you see yourself doing in Toronto?

Williams: Playing, coaching ... You know, wherever I am in my career and I feel like doing.

What did you enjoy most about being a CFL player?

Williams: Well, I think I was very fortunate to play for "Pinball" [Argos head coach Michael Clemons], and I mean everyday we came to work. It was fun. It was exciting. I think the biggest thing is not the shorter workday, but it seemed like everyone was having fun win, lose or draw. We'd go out there and we worked hard, but we had a good time and we really liked each other. And for me it was just a different experience, and I really enjoyed that.

Are you having fun this year?

Williams: Yeah, we're having fun. We're having a good time. I think that's one of the reasons why we're playing so well because everyone here likes each other and we work hard, but we have guys like [Jason] Ferguson and Joey Porter and Ronnie [Brown], and they keep things really light and we have a lot of fun.

Are your teammates asking about Toronto?

Williams: Yeah, it comes up a lot. Even before this week guys are curious about what it's like and, of course, I only have positive things to say because I really did have a good time. In general, I just like Canadians. They all seemed very nice and honest. And one thing that I talk to people about as far as Canadians versus Americans is I think in America ... I think people sometimes are frowned at when you try to be an individual, and from my experience that's something that's appreciated in Canada. Obviously, I don't really fit in everywhere I go. I really enjoyed it up there for that reason.

Do you keep in touch with your former Argonaut teammates?

Williams: So many guys up there have been in and out, and a lot of the guys I played with are not even there anymore and so not this year. But I've tried to keep in touch with a couple guys. I'm still in touch with some of the staff up there.

Will the NFL coming to Canada impact the CFL?

Williams: I think so. I think people's first reaction is to think that the CFL is an inferior league, and I wouldn't subscribe to that. I think playing up there is different -- a different game -- and I don't think the NFL players are necessarily better than that of the CFL; they're
just different. They're quicker, they're smaller, they don't spend as much time at work. There we had four-and-a-half-hour workdays, and here we're eight sometimes nine hours. Coaches are sometimes here even longer.

Did you think you would have a bigger impact when you played in Canada?

Williams: Before I broke me arm, we were wide open. We had five receivers, and we weren't really a running team. But as soon as Adam Rita took over, things started to change, and when I came back from having my broken arm, with John [Avery] and myself, we were running the ball and doing a good job, and we were winning and we were close to going to the Grey Cup. So it was a little frustrating at first. Breaking my arm wasn't great, but when I came back we started to jell and it became even more fun.

Is there anything about living in Toronto that you miss?

Williams: When I was living in Toronto I was living downtown, and I could walk pretty much anywhere. There was a nice homeopathic shop on the boulevard I used to walk to, and that was nice. Right where I lived there was a lot of good restaurants. There was a good Thai food place. Across the street was a little corner store, where people were really nice. And our neighbors became really close friends. So I kind of just miss the community feel and all the great people that I got to meet that lived around where I got to live.

What type of reaction do you expect from the Toronto fans?

Williams: I assume they'll be happy because there is some kind of connection, and the only team I've played for in the CFL is the Argonauts. So they have no reason to boo me.

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