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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Repeated drug use needs bigger penalty

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ricky Williams is an exceptionally talented professional football player. But Williams also has a drug problem, though to be honest, it's marijuana that has followed Williams throughout his career and not crack cocaine or some other more dangerous drug.

Williams won the Heisman Trophy during his college days and then entered the NFL as rushing champion. No one disagrees on his talent. But the dark side of Williams never could stray too far from drugs.

Williams tested positive for drugs three times during his brief professional career. He was fined or suspended each time. He retired to pursue yoga and holistic medicine in India. In short, Ricky Williams marches to a different drum.

Following the 2003 season, Williams once again tested positive for marijuana. He'd had enough. And so he retired. Trouble is, he owed the Miami Dolphins over $8 million by sitting out the 2004 season.

So last year, Williams made a comeback. And by any measure, his return was good for him, his team and professional football. Williams is a flashy player and a crowd-pleaser. His troubled past seemed behind him.

But this week, Williams tested positive for drugs again and, if the test is upheld, he'll have to sit out the upcoming season. Williams has appealed and it will be a month before the final results are known.

In most instances, Williams would be in jail for a fourth drug violation. But his problem is not the law, it's the NFL substance abuse policy. So the world according to the NFL is a bit different. And that's where professional sports are wrong.

You can't help but like Ricky Williams. He's personable and popular and immensely talented. But Williams' behavior sends a wrong signal to the youth of this country who look up to professional athletes. That's where Williams and the NFL have failed.

If the drug test is upheld, Williams should be forced out of the game that brought him fame. It won't make anyone feel good but it's the right thing to do.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen