OWINGS MILLS, Md. - The Baltimore Ravens have made it official, running back Ricky Williams is retiring after 11 years in the NFL.
"I have to thank coach [ John] Harbaugh and the Ravens organization for the opportunity they gave me this year," said Williams in a statement from the Ravens. "I had so much fun and really appreciated the chance to finish on such a great note."
The news comes just two weeks after Williams said he planned to return to the Ravens for the final season of his two-year contract. He said his body felt good and that he was going train hard for next season.
However, according to a report on the Ravens website, Williams sent a Twitter message today to Ravens fullback Vonta Leach saying, "love and respect. 10,000 career yards, not many Rbs can say that. It was a pleasure blocking and playing in the same backfield with u."
He also tweeted this afternoon, "thank you all, but this ain't it, I'm gonna do something really special."
The 34 year old Williams was the back up to Ray Rice last season in his first year with the Ravens. Williams ran for 444 yards and score two touchdowns during the season that saw the Ravens finish 13-3, win the AFC North Championship by sweeping the division, and come just short to winning the AFC Championship against New England.
Ray Rice, through a statement from the Ravens, said this about the Williams news:
" 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. 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."
Williams was a Heisman Trophy winner at Texas before starting his NFL career with the New Orleans Saints in 1999. That pick is best known for the fact that then-Saints coach Mike Ditka traded all of his draft picks and two picks in the 2000 draft to pick Williams fifth overall.
Williams then led the NFL in 2002 with 1,853 rushing yards, making the Pro Bowl.
Williams did retire after the 2004 season while facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy. However, a year later he returned and played for the Miami Dolphins.
Williams had five 1,000 yard seasons with the Saints and Dolphins and this past season became the 26th back in NFL history to rush for more than 10,000 yards. He finishes his 11 year career with 10,009 yards and 74 touchdowns.