Return of the Yogi

Last night marked the return of Ricky Williams to the NFL. Normally this would be something of a “Who cares?” moment. Except that Williams skipped last year's football season. (Technically, he retired a year past and unretired last month.)

During his time away, Williams traveled abroad and took classes in Ayurvedic medicine and yoga. When asked about his sudden retirement, Williams cited the year-round commitment demanded by professional football that prevented him from these other activities. (To be fair, Williams also faced disciplinary action for using a little too much of the chronic.)

Having followed Williams since his college football days, I have found him an enigmatic but ultimately sympathetic fellow. I think he is much smarter than most people assume and I applaud his desire to know himself and become a balanced person. While I would not have made the choices he has, all the interviews I have seen show an authentic, questing spirit.

What really irks me is the continued umbrage taken by the mediots who cover professional football. They were infuriated when he retired originally and continue to be even after his return. They heap what they intend as insults upon Williams, epithets such as “freaky” or “kooky”. When he first retired I attributed their venom to an attempt to increase ratings via fabrication of a crisis.

But now I realize that their hatred of Williams is driven by a much more fundamental issue. By leaving fame and millions of dollars behind in order to better himself, Williams has called into question everything for which they stand. He inadvertently attacked the pillars of their philosophy: that to be rich and famous is the goal of life. They appear to be incapable of understanding that someone might prefer to be enlightened but impecunious.

Sad, sad, little men.

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