Former Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams was ordered yesterday to repay the team more than $8.6 million for breaching his contract when he suddenly quit before training camp.
Arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled that Williams must repay $8,616,353 in bonus money under the contract he left behind when he shocked the Dolphins and their fans with his sudden retirement. The contract ran through 2007.
"We are pleased that Mr. Bloch has confirmed that Ricky Williams breached his contract with the Dolphins and is required to repay compensation," NFL senior vice president/general counsel Dennis Curran said.
"This decision is consistent with many other cases that have affirmed the right of NFL clubs and players to negotiate compensation based on the player's fulfillment of the contract," Curran said.
The Dolphins declined comment, saying they only talk about players on their roster.
Williams's agent, Leigh Steinberg, was out of the country, according to a spokeman in his office.
It was not immediately known what would happen if Williams declared bankruptcy or decided to return to the team.
But even if the 27-year-old Williams wanted to return, he faces a suspension for the entire 2004 season for violating the NFL drug policy. He has acknowledged testing positive for marijuana three times.
Miami could be facing another problem. The Dolphins plan to play the Pittsburgh Steelers tomorrow as scheduled in Miami despite the threat of Hurricane Jeanne.
The hurricane is expected to hit Florida's east coast this weekend, most likely tomorrow morning.
James ready to go
Colts running back Edgerrin James practiced and will play tomorrow against the Packers. James strained his left hamstring on a late touchdown run in last week's win over the Titans. Colts coach Tony Dungy said he expected James to start but see limited playing time in the Colts' home opener. "He did fine," Dungy said. "And right now I assume that he'll probably play. We'll watch him and monitor him." . . . Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was listed as questionable for tomorrow's game against the Vikings in Minnesota, after being held out of practice because he aggravated the right hamstring he pulled in training camp. "When you're dealing with those hamstrings, you never know for sure exactly how it will be," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. Smith said Urlacher has a "50-50" chance of playing . . . Jets safety Jon McGraw was fined $7,500 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Chargers quarterback Drew Brees, who sustained a concussion . . . Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell practiced for the first time this week, taking about a third of the snaps on his strained hamstring to keep alive his chances of playing Monday night against the Cowboys . . . Giants safety Shaun Williams injured a knee making an interception at practice yesterday, and his status for tomorrow's game against the Browns is uncertain.