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05-21-2005, 05:07 PM
Updated: 07:47 PM EDT
Agent Says Williams Excited About Possible NFL Return
Running Back Has Been in Conversations With New Miami Coach Saban

MIAMI (May 20) - Ricky Williams' strong rapport with new Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban is part of the reason why the retired running back is contemplating a return, his agent said Friday.

Williams and Saban have had "some steady dialogue in the last 10 days," said agent Leigh Steinberg, who would not discuss specifics or detail what would have to transpire in the coming weeks for the NFL's leading rusher in 2002 to rejoin the Dolphins.

"Ricky has expressed a desire and excitement about returning to the Dolphins and playing football this season," Steinberg said. "He's keeping in shape and has been involved in a rigorous training program."

Williams retired unexpectedly last July, shortly before the Dolphins opened training camp and began their tumult-filled season. Without him, Miami went 4-12, saw coach Dave Wannstedt resign after nine games, and the Dolphins averaged just 17.2 points and 275 yards per game - their worst production since 1969.

The leading Dolphins rusher in 2004, Sammy Morris, had 523 yards - well off Williams' total of 1,372 in 2003, and his NFL-best 1,853 from 2002.

Saban, who has continually remained open to the prospect of Williams returning, said Thursday the sides are "in the process of evaluating" some issues that could lead to a comeback.

As recently as February, when he was in South Florida for a hearing in a paternity case, Williams told reporters he was "enjoying retirement" and unsure if he'd ever return to football.

If Williams returns, he'd likely have to wait until July to un-retire. Otherwise, he would face a one-year suspension for his violations of the NFL's substance-abuse program.

"He owes a four-game suspension provided he comes back after the one-year anniversary of his retirement," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Friday.

The Williams saga had numerous twists, including his acknowledgment shortly after retiring that he failed drug tests and faced a suspension for testing positive three times for marijuana. A court later found him in breach of contract by retiring, and ordered him to repay the Dolphins $8.6 million.

Williams spent much of the last year traveling to places like India and Australia, but, according to some close to him, continued to follow football and the Dolphins. He also enrolled at the California College of Ayurveda in Grass Valley, Calif., studying holistic medicine.