Former quarterback Joe Theismann, who began his professional career with the Argonauts and later went on to star in the NFL with the Redskins, said he was "embarrassed right now to be a Toronto Argonaut" in an interview with ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd.
"I don't ever want to be mentioned in the same breath as Ricky Williams as a football player. He's a disgrace to the game. The man doesn't deserve to play football. He should go on with his life and treat his drug addictions or go do whatever he wants to do. He's been suspended from the National Football League on multiple occasions. Doesn't anybody have any class anywhere? For gosh sakes, let the kid go do what he wants to do. He doesn't want to play football," Theismann, who is part of ESPN's Monday Night Football announcing crew, said.
Williams was suspended by the NFL for the entire 2006 season following a fourth positive drug test. But the Dolphins gave him permission to play this year in the CFL, and he signed with Toronto on Sunday.
Theismann, while calling Williams a "good kid" said he believes that the running back has had too many chances.
"We have rules in the National Football League. It's real simple. Don't do drugs and you can play. It's a privilege to be able to play professional football. It's not some rite of passage. He's insulted the Miami Dolphins after they took him back and gave him a chance to play. Now he insults the intelligence of everybody that thinks that doing drugs is OK. To me, it's the wrong message to send to kids. It's the wrong thing to be doing, and the Toronto Argonauts have embarrassed themselves as an organization signing him," Theismann said.
Williams shrugged off the comments.
"He's got his opinions, I respect his opinion," Williams said.
"Every time he says something, this is what happens: He says a
remark about me that's offensive, then when he has to do one of our
games he comes and apologizes and says, 'I'm sorry.'
"So, I'm sure next year when he's doing a game he'll come up to
me and say, 'I'm sorry,' and it will be the same thing over again.
It will probably be next year when I go back to Miami and he's
doing a game with ESPN."
Williams doesn't fault Theismann for speaking out.
"I don't have any hard feelings against him," he said. "I
understand it's his job to say things so he has to say things."
Toronto coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons also took the high road
concerning Theismann's comments.
"He has a right to his opinion, I respect his opinion and I
respect him as a person," Clemons said. "I'm very comfortable
with my decision and I am also in no way intimidated by any one
statement, including Joe Theismann's, about our commitment as an
organization, our decision as a team and you can call Joe and tell
Toronto has won the Grey Cup -- the CFL championship -- 15 times, most recently in 2004. The Argonauts were 11-7 last season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.