By Connor Buestad
The Classical Greek philosopher Socrates is perhaps most famous for uttering the following words, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” If one thing is for certain, NFL running back Ricky Williams will never be accused of failing to take a good look at himself in the mirror.
In the latest installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series, director Sean Pamphilon has brought us an hour long film titled “Run Ricky Run”. The thought provoking piece grants its audience an unobstructed view into the seemingly bizarre career path Williams has taken since winning the Heisman Trophy at Texas in 1998. This film’s most memorable quality is that it challenges its audience to climb into Ricky’s troubled mind and extract the truth, whatever and wherever that may be.
Pamphilon opens his piece by mentioning, “There’s something about him (Williams), even in difficult times, that makes you stick with him.” I found these words to be spot on, because although I stuck with Ricky in the end, he sure gave me reasons to dismiss his fickle ways with scorn and disgust.
Perhaps the biggest knock on Williams over the years has been his utter lack of commitment to others in lieu of following his own path. Most notably, this included walking away from a contract with the Miami Dolphins in July 2004, just days before training camp. The Dolphins were left on short notice to scramble for a replacement while Ricky headed off on his own, Marijuana securely in toe.
The film devotes a considerable amount of time to showing footage of Ricky being battered by the mainstream media. In 2004, there weren’t many television analysts who mentioned Ricky Williams without the words “quitter” or “pothead” in the first three sentences. Fortunately, this film allows the audience access to the point where one can navigate through all the media’s noise, and take a look at what really made Ricky tick.
Certainly, what made Ricky tick was not money or fame. Not after walking away from his multi-million dollar contract to go live in a tent in Australia. Not after moving to Grass Valley to play pickup basketball and poker with a dude named “Charlie D”. Not after heading off to India to nurture his passion for holistic medicine, Hinduism and Yoga. Not after spending countless days locked in his own house, wondering if he could build up the courage to face the world.
Just when you’ve seemingly made up your mind on Williams, “Run Ricky Run” throws you for another loop. And to that point, there are challenges Ricky has faced in his young life that I’ll leave up to the film itself to describe. Is Ricky Williams a hard nosed football player, a womanizer, a stoner, a peaceful yogi, a lost soul, a flake, a jerk, or all of the above?
You’re only $5 and a few clicks of your mouse on iTunes from finding out the truth. Enjoy the ride…