Modern Athletes, Marijuana And Reefer Madness: Run Ricky Run

On Tuesday evening, April 27, in its heralded 30 for 30 sports documentary series, ESPN will broadcast in prime time the behind-the-scenes story—and tragedy—of Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams’ unfortuitous rise to pro football fame during this prolonged epoch of cannabis prohibition (which began in 1937).

For college and NFL football fans of the late 1990s, no player has grabbed more controversial headlines, over a longer period of time, for really nothing more than preferring cannabis to alcohol, than Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams.

In a fascinating, multi-year documentary by Sean Pamphilon, a former ESPN producer, for the first time the general public and massive NFL fan base can watch the story that tracks Ricky’s amazingly erratic football career in Run Ricky Run, from his unwillingness to cut his dreads to play for the top-ranked and legendary University of Texas Longhorns (where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1998, college football’s top honor) to the New Orleans Saints where he was a top five draft pick, and finally the Miami Dolphins—all the while dogged by Ricky’s personal choice to continue to use cannabis while hugely influential and powerful institutions in American society (NCAA, U of TX, NFL and corporate sponsors) wrestled with his very personal (and consequential) choice, largely punishing him and making him something of a martyr in professional sports.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing parts of this fascinating documentary in the past and recommend this final production’s viewing as a way for us all to better understand the intersection of professional athletes, morality, the law and corporate public relations.

*Premieres Tuesday Apr 27 8PM ESPN

-Tuesday Apr 27 (11pm ESPN 2)

-Wednesday Apr 28 (4:30pm ESPN U)

-Wednesday Apr 28 (11pm ESPN U)

-Thursday Apr 29 (7:30pm ESPN 2)

-Thursday Apr 29 (11pm ESPN Classic)


22 thoughts

  1. Another causality of the war on some drugs. College and professional sports has had many battles with substance abuse (steroids, Cocaine, Amphetamines, etc.) In the past many were overlooked. Cannabis should be their last worry. Its ability to help in the recovery process should be a good thing. It should be allowed as a medicine for those that need it.

  2. I bet it runs 5 mins. about pot
    if not super props.
    I wish we had news that was news about pot on these, besides at the bottom links.Like Amsterdam or Jamaica where it’s legal and see what story’s they run of pot or top dog’s of the world’s view on pot.
    I check this site multiple times daily for my fav. plant and past time and usually am not satisfied,at least not as much as last year in the March,April,May months.
    Anyway I will def. check this out.
    thanks for being one of the few informative sites to keep track though

  3. Thats the shitty part about all of this someone successful loses all of it because he/she chose to use cannabis an not alcohol .Earth to the u.s um……..we have a problem!!

  4. Not to mention very inteligent people/ very good athletes such as Randy Moss very good player he used it too. Many people that you wouldn’t even think use’s does.Only thing is that catches them is either the whole piss test thing or poss otherwise no one would know much less care.

  5. “The Constitution points out, that nothing in the document, grants the federal government authority to regulate drugs.””If you own your own body, then you have the right to do with it as you please, so long as you do not use it to initiate or threaten to initiate force or fraud against the person or justly-acquired property of anybody else.”

  6. The real shame is that, despite all indications of high usage levels in all major sports, Ricky is relatively alone among pro athletes in his refusal to publicly denigrate cannabis and its users. From Santonio Holmes to Michael Phelps to Tim Lincecum to Josh Howard, we know that cannabis pervades the behavior and culture of high-profile sports. Yet rarely do we see an athlete stand up to the pressure to “apologize”, let alone take an active role in cannabis law reform or similar advocacy (which would be a HUGE help to our cause).

    For what it’s worth, the same holds true to a certain extent in Hollywood. Apart from Woody Harrelson, Bill Maher, and now Sting (and maybe a couple others), you rarely hear the topic addressed among the Hollywood bleeding-heart elite. These people carry huge influence among people who are not otherwise likely to listen to messages about the harms of cannabis prohibition. I wish athletes and celebrities of all types would not only continue smoking pot, but would be public and proud and proactive about it.

  7. On the constitution thing: American’s back before prohibition actually respected the Constitution. This was why the Constitution had to be amended to outlaw alcohol. Then the Congress found a way to control the people using the commerce clause and passed the tax stamp act. I wish more American’s recognized this destruction of the Constitution and the danger to citizens when judges practice judicial activism.

  8. Ricky Williams has finally gotten back into the good graces of the NFL. He’s making over $4 million this season, after making over $3 million last season. He’ll end up just fine. It’s great to see such a fine person triumph in the end.

  9. I could go on for pages about the staggering ignorance of most people. If you watched Run Ricky Run and all you took out of it was Ricky Williams’s marijuana use. How he was vilified by the EVIL society in which we live. LEGALIZE POT! You missed the whole point of the documentary. You don’t get it and chances are you never will.

  10. Good documentary, bravo on Ricky for standing up and telling America “Your way (capitalism and greed) sucks and it is easy to walk away from”, all while enjoying a nice joint. More people need to act like Ricky.

  11. Music should just be outlawed… because with out good weed theres no good music … a majority of music that is produced on sobriety and modern medicine just many weed songs their may be and artist promote their career off marijuana music should have to bail these teen agers out of jail when they get busted for hear and doing
    these marijuana laws cost me several careers while medications ruined my life and wasted a few decades of my life these trillion dollar medical company’s need to pay people back for the garbage they rip off our medical insurance and citizens and best believe that this is the health care reform issue theres millions wasted each week with faulty psychiatric medications some of this crap costs a few cents to make and costs insurance company’s several dollars to even hundreds of dollars a pill and yet causes more problems for the patient as many years as i seen wasted research on this crap i never seen a pill that will heal some one of any thing only help relive or combat things its vast waste some of these medicines are horrible some will give a person the worst feelings ever a good majority are more dangerous than any street drug marijuana could have been used to invent great medications if it was available to the right scientist for study but the fact that creativity sucks these days and people are remaking any movie and song they can think of just goes to show how pathetic the world has became so when you take your child to a dr and he decides to write him or her a prescription for Riddilon Prozac Welbutrin Zoloft etc you should have a hatchet in your purse or back pocket to cut off that drs hand and far as music just give it up its not a great subject with out weed alcohol and cocaine is for drs to get hooked on

  12. Finally, an athlete that isn’t apologizing and saying that smoking marijuana was the wrong thing to do. Michael Phelps had the opportunity to express his point of view. Instead he put his tail between his legs.

    Way to go Ricky. Keep up the smoking…and running.

  13. Ricky is amazing. He’s still a great RB who will surpass 1000 yards and 10 TDs this year.

    By the way, when was the last time a pro athlete was stoned and shot off a gun or assaulted a girl in a public place? The answer is simple: never.

    On the other hand, alcohol has contributed to the complete destruction of the lives of Plaxico Burress, Maurice Clarett, PacMan Jones, Lawrence Taylor, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth,John Daly, Ben Roethlisberger, Vin Baker, Leonard Little, Pelle Limberg, Theo Flurry, Darryl Strawberry, and – – do I really need to go on?

  14. “Ricky is amazing. He’s still a great RB who will surpass 1000 yards and 10 TDs this year.”

    Hell no. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ricky for loving cannabis and standing up(ish) for his right to use, but that dude has not lived up to his potential as a running back. I don’t think it’s possible for an athlete to smoke as much as he does and still perform at peak potential. It’s a physiological matter – you can’t inhale smoke a couple times every day and still be in the physical condition that’s required to be a top NFL running back.

    800 yards and 6 TDs this year, tops.

  15. Stephen you have no idea about what you are saying. I would imagine you are not a athlete. So shut the f up idiot. How much does he smoke? You smoke with him, i didnt think so.

  16. It’s a shame that you can get a longer suspension for smoking herb than you can for fighting dogs.

  17. OH MY GOD, YOU PEOPLE ARE SO F****** DUMB! Run Ricky Run is about Ricky Williams the human being and the false perception that he retired to simply get high. It’s about a man who was vilified and trashed by everyone, because of that false perception. YES, he used marijuana to help him cope with, and overcome his problems but at the cost of other people’s ignorance. If you can’t figure out that you’re just as guilty as they are, by making it all about your agenda. YOU’RE A DUMB A**. And by the way what is it with you potheads and alcohol. NO S***, alcohol is really bad for you, but what do you call or even think about someone who needs to get drunk everyday to cope with life. Yet none of you can make that same connection with people who need to get high everyday. OH YEAH, that’s right, everyone getting high everyday has a good reason. Why don’t you try asking a drunk why they drink? I bet they would say pretty close to the same thing you do, about why you get high everyday.

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