Ricky Williams finally explains why he wore a wedding dress on a magazine cover
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Ricky Williams finally explains why he wore a wedding dress on a magazine cover

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Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, running back from Texas, shows off his New Orleans Saints jersey after being picked fifth in the NFL draft Saturday, April 17, 1999.

Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, running back from Texas, shows off his New Orleans Saints jersey after being picked fifth in the NFL draft Saturday, April 17, 1999. (Gary Bogdon/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Ricky Williams is one of the most polarizing figures in NFL history.

From his battles with mental health to the suspensions, his career - especially in Miami - remains still a touchy subject to this day.

But before being traded to the Dolphins, Williams was in New Orleans. The former Pro Bowler recently appeared on Bleacher Report's Untold Stories to talk about that controversial first year with the Saints which he dubbed "the season from hell."

For him, it all began with his choice of agent: multi-hyphenate Master P.

"I became really close with one of his runners. I just felt like family," he told the show's host Master Tesfatsion. "And No Limit was on top at that moment and I (was) just dreaming about having the chain."

Things only escalated after Saints coach Mike Ditka traded everything for Williams. When discussing the wedding dress ESPN The Magazine cover, the former Texas running back let it slip that it was originally Dan Le Batard's idea.

"He said, 'You know, it's kind of like a marriage,'" Williams said, impersonating Le Batard, the former Miami Herald columnist " 'and so what if we did a picture of you in a wedding dress and Coach Ditka in a tuxedo.' "

What he didn't expect from the cover was the media backlash.

"To me, I just thought it was like Halloween, wearing a costume," Williams said.

As part of an ESPN magazine series, Williams was very candid about how the criticism affected him.

"The negative reaction to that infamous wedding-dress photo on the magazine's cover - even though it wasn't my idea, even though my boss, Ditka, was in the photo, endorsing the joke - was a little overwhelming," he wrote at the time.

If there's anything to be learned from his conversation it's that Williams, like it or not, was ahead of his time.

Think about how much heat Williams took for his marijuana use. He was relentlessly criticized for essentially choosing weed over football.

Fast forward more than a decade later and the recreational use of marijuana is legal in 11 states. On top of that, the NHL and MLB don't even penalize players whose drug tests returned with positive results. While there's no telling whether this will affect the NFL's policy, Williams' actions could be interpreted as a catalyst for change throughout professional sports.

Even Williams alluded to this:

"Things have moved and I feel like I've done my part to be a part of the change and that feels good but it was rough. And I think anyone who's been a trailblazer will have the scars to prove it."

Visit Miami Herald at www.miamiherald.com

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