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American Football: Letter sent to Ricky Williams

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posted on Aug, 20 2004 @ 12:55 PM
In a letter to Ricky Williams, the Miami Dolphins have demanded that the running back return to play for the team or pay back $8 million he has already been paid, reported the Miami Herald in Friday's editions.

Running up the score on your opponent is:

Always OK.

OK if he's talkin' junk.

Not Cool.

I don't know, I'm usually on the wrong end of that one.

The letter to Williams, along with a duplicate sent to his agent Leigh Steinberg, begins the process by which the Dolphins hope to recoup the money they lost when the running back suddenly retired in July, on the eve of training camp.

Williams filed retirement papers with the league shortly thereafter.

Neither Williams nor Steinberg could be reached for comment. Dolphins president Eddie Jones and general manager Rick Spielman refused to comment on the matter.

NFL Players Association attorney Richard Berthelsen told the Herald he was unaware that such letters had been sent.

On July 29, Berthelsen told the Herald, ''It's our position that these penalty clauses that teams have put into contracts are unenforceable, depending on state law." Berthelsen also said the players association would likely file a grievance if the team pursued action against Williams.

Because of penalty clauses included when Williams' contract was reworked two years ago, the team could try to force him to return $5.3 million in incentive money as well as $3.3 million of the $8.8 million signing bonus Williams received when he joined the Saints in 1999.

Williams was to earn at least $3.6 million this year, with incentives possibly pushing that total as high as $6 million.

Though Williams has held out the possibility of returning to football next season, perhaps with the Oakland Raiders, he has insisted he will not return this year.

Under league rules, if a player in its substance-abuse program files retirement papers, he cannot unretire for a year without penalty. If he unretires in less than a year, it's counted as a positive drug test in the NFL program -- which, in Williams' case, would be his fourth positive test and would result in an indefinite suspension.

If Williams unretires after a year, he still would be facing a four-game suspension, having recently tested positive, he says, for marijuana for a third time under the NFL's testing program. A third positive test brings with it a mandatory four-game suspension.

The Dolphins acquired Williams before the 2002 season. He led the NFL that year with 1,853 yards rushing and broke nine team records. Last season, he ran for 1,372 yards.

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