If you were watching the Miami Dolphins play the New York Jets this afternoon, you did not see Dolphins superstar running back Ricky Williams. He's sitting out a four-game suspension for failing NFL drug tests. Many of you who don't follow football have heard of Ricky Williams because last year he did something that all star athletes never do: At the peak of his earning power, he simply walked out on his team, and his $5 million salary. And that unexpected walkout doomed the Dolphins' season. But this season, Ricky is back.
Why? Why did he return to football? Correspondent Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes went to Miami to find out. But first, take a look at Ricky Williams a year ago.
When 60 Minutes first met him, he was studying the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda, hoping to become a holistic healer. Instead of roaring crowds, he was listening to what his instructor called "the whisperings of his soul." And he told 60 Minutes with some conviction that being free to focus on his mind, his body, and his soul was worth much more to him than the millions he'd turned his back on.
"Well," he said, "my whole thing in life is, I just want freedom. And I thought that money would give me that freedom. I was wrong, of course, but …"
Why was he wrong?
"Because, especially when you're 21 and you're given as much money as I was given ..."
How much was he given?
"When I was 21, I received my first check," Williams replied. "It was 3.6."
"That was before taxes," Williams said. "After, it was like 2 … 2.4 … It bound me more than it freed me because now I had more things to worry about. I had more people asking for money. I thought I had to buy a house and nice cars and different things that people with money are supposed to do."
He said he did not find that satisfying.
"It just seemed to create more problems," Williams said.
And he has said before: "It's blood money as far as I'm concerned. The money is what made me miserable. I want to be free of that stress." When Wallace challenged him on that statement, Williams agreed that it was "bull----."