ERSTWHILE NFL running back Ricky Williams dropped a dime on the Miami Dolphins the other day, calling coach Dave Wannstedt to let him know that he was headed for India and wouldn't be showing up to save the friendly fish from becoming the worst offensive team in the league this year.
It was a nice gesture. Maybe Wannstedt can join him in Bangladesh after the Dolphins get to 0-7.
The phone call prompted speculation that Williams might rejoin the team just a couple of weeks after abruptly announcing his retirement from football, but the prospect of a four-game suspension for a positive marijuana test made that - if you'll pardon the expression - something of a pipe dream.
"It's not in my best interests to play football right now," Williams told The Miami Herald.
Which left ESPN henchman Jim Rome incredulous and prompted this reply on his edgy sports talk show Thursday night: "What he really means is, if I can't burn the hippie lettuce whenever I want and wherever I want, I don't want to play football."
(Special note to Eagles fans: The word "incredulous" means displaying surprise and disbelief. For example, the way you look when your team doesn't blow a big playoff game.)
The Mike Williams decision stinks, and that's not because I'm an unabashed USC fan. The NCAA is punishing Williams for getting whipsawed between the two Maurice Clarett court rulings. The kid is going to have to sit out a year, and that doesn't do anybody any good.
Should anyone be surprised? Not after NCAA officials recently ruled Olympic skiing hopeful Jeremy Bloom ineligible to play football at Colorado because he has to accept promotional money to finance his training for the Winter Games. Apparently they don't want to let anything tarnish the shining reputation of that Colorado football program.
Obviously, it's been a pretty discouraging two weeks for Orioles fans, who were having delusions of adequacy after the O's won 11 of 13 games in early August to climb back toward respectability.
Take heart. Pitching help may be on the way soon. The team can be expected to make a hard run at Boston Red Sox starter Derek Lowe in November.
Lowe isn't having a signature season - he's around the .500 mark and has a five-plus ERA - but Orioles officials feel that the dip in his performance can be attributed to contract-year pressure and some personal issues that should be resolved by next year. That may also soften demand and hold the price down this winter.
Brady Anderson called the other day to let me know that I had misrepresented the comment he made about facing Randy Johnson during last weekend's Orioles Hall of Fame luncheon.
"Dude, I've never been terrified of anyone in my life," he said.
I'll vouch for that. Anderson was a fearless hitter who stood right up on the plate and took more than his share of nasty bruises for the team. He still loves to compete, even if it's just in an argument about semantics.
The Olympic Games are scheduled to end tonight with another moving ceremony in Athens, but Greece could wake up tomorrow with a nasty economic hangover. The country could be left with billions in Olympic debt, though a poll of the citizens of Rodgers Forge indicates that an overwhelming majority of Olympic fans think that the money was well spent.
Olympic Atkins Diet tip: If you're at the closing ceremony tonight and someone offers you souvlaki, go ahead and eat as much as you want. There may be some carbs in it, but you're at the Olympics, so you can work them off with a brisk 10,000-meter run to the end of the security line at the airport tomorrow.
Final thought: Don't know about you, but I'm outraged at the concept of subliminal product placement in movies and on television (subscribe to The Sun) and think that a law should be passed to force producers and advertisers to draw a clear line (gift subscriptions are always nice) between real content and promotional endorsement. It's time to take some action (read a copy to an Eagles fan) and end this objectionable practice.
Contact Peter Schmuck at email@example.com.