Ricky Williams retires after 11 NFL seasons (updated)

One of the most interesting careers in NFL history has apparently come to an end.

Running back Ricky Williams has decided to retire after 11 NFL seasons.

The Ravens have officially announced Williams’ decision to step away.

“Thank you all, but this ain’t it, I’m gonna do something really special.” Williams wrote on his Twitter account this afternoon. “‘Be you and change the world’”

Williams, who spent the bulk of his career with the Dolphins after being taken by the Saints with the No. 5 pick in the 1999 draft, signed with the Ravens in August of last year.

Ricky_Williams-sidebar-purple.jpgHe had 108 carries for 444 yards and two touchdowns in his one year in Baltimore, and provided a nice complement to top running back Ray Rice. Multiple times this season, Rice called Williams and fullback Vonta Leach “the best things to happen” to him in his NFL career.

Williams also reached a pretty impressive milestone this season, topping 10,000 career rushing yards in the Ravens’ regular season finale against the Bengals. He became just the 26th player in NFL history to record more than 10,000 career rushing yards.

While the 34-year-old running back showed flashes of brilliance during his career (most notably the 2002 season in which he rushed for 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns with Miami), he also will be remembered for his quirky behavior and multiple failed drug tests.

Williams previously retired once, back in 2004, after violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He returned to football in 2005 but was then suspended for the entire 2006 NFL season for violating the NFL drug policy for a fourth time. Williams then appeared in just one game for the Dolphins during the 2007 campaign.

He since has made yoga a big part of his life, even becoming a qualified instructor, and tried to get a few of his Ravens teammates to understand the spiritual side of yoga and join him on the mat this season. Williams also is a vegan, eschewing the typical meat-and-potatoes diet associated with burly NFL football players.

Meanwhile, from a football perspective, if Williams stays retired this time (and there’s a chance that he changed his mind prior to the start of the 2012 season), his departure will create another need for the Ravens this offseason.

Right now, the only other running backs currently on the team’s roster (Rice is an unrestricted free agent, although his return is certain) are 2011 seventh-round pick Anthony Allen - who was active for just five games this season and saw most of his action on special teams - and 2011 undrafted free agent Damien Berry. Allen had three regular season carries for eight yards, while Berry spent the season on the practice squad.

Williams signed a two-year deal with the Ravens last summer and was owed $1.5 million for the 2012 season. If he does retire, the team would save that amount in salary cap space.

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