Monday, May 10, 2010

ESPN 30 for 30 - Run Ricky Run

I watched Run Ricky Run. This is the twelfth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 film series.

In 1998, Ricky Williams won the 1998 Heisman Trophy as the most outstanding player in college football while playing for the University of Texas. As coach of the Saints, Mike Ditka traded all of his draft picks so that the New Orleans Saints could draft Williams in the 1st round (5th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft. Williams played three years in New Orleans before being traded to Miami. After two productive years in Miami, Williams tested positive for marijuana in May 2004 and faced a four game suspension. Instead of serving the suspension, Williams announced that he was retiring from football.

At this point, Williams invited a journalist to tell his life story. The journalist spent the next five years following Williams and chronicling his odyssey. The film is the result of this effort.

Williams returned in 2005 to play with the Dolphins. In April of 2006, Williams was suspended for the entire 2006 season for testing positive for a drug other than marijuana. He played the 2006 season with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.

Following another failed drug test in early 2007, he returned to play one game with the Dolphins in November and was hurt in a Monday Night Football game. Williams had productive seasons with the Dolphins in 2008 and 2009. In 2009, Williams reached 1,000 yards rushing in Week 15 and set an NFL record for longest span between 1,000-yard seasons at 6 years.

More than half of the film explores Ricky Williams' life off the football field. It includes interviews with both of his parents and look at his childhood. The film examines his interests in holistic medicine and yoga. Williams studied Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of holistic medicine, at the California College of Ayurveda during the fall of 2004 in Grass Valley, California.

This is my least favorite of the 30 for 30 films to date. Williams is so shy and soft spoken that it was hard to get him to tell his own story. While it provides a glimpse into his life, I did not feel like I had a better understanding of Ricky Williams at the end of the film; I did not feel any connection to him or vested interest in him.

The film is available on Amazon.

Run Ricky Run is also available on iTunes.

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