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Ricky Williams: NFL pot policy stopped me from becoming Hall of Famer

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Ricky Williams’ name has become as synonymous with his marijuana advocacy as it is for his successful NFL career. So it shouldn’t come as much a surprise that the former running back believes enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame would have been assured had it not been for the NFL’s stringent policies against marijuana use.

Williams was making an appearance on Bill Simmons’ new HBO show, “Any Given Wednesday” — alongside Seth Rogen, no less — when he touted his pot-marred Hall of Fame credentials.

Simmons asked Williams if he believes he’d be in the Hall if he didn’t have to navigate the league’s pot laws, which many argue are now draconian.

“For sure,” he said, as transcribed by CBS Sports. “No doubt. One, I look at the amount of stress and things that distracted me from playing football, surrounding cannabis,” Williams said. “I look at the first half of my career when it was pretty much a secret that I used and I could do as I wished. And the last part of my career, I think I would have started, I would have had more touches. As it is right now, 11 seasons, over 10,000 yards. Also, the negative media coverage I got really tarnished my image.”

Williams in 12 NFL seasons amassed 10,009 yards and 66 touchdowns to go along with a tidy 4.1-yard-per-carry average. Williams of course “retired” prior to the 2004 season, only to return in 2005. Injuries, among other things — including a one-year suspension in the 2006 season for substance abuse violations — hampered his productivity later in his career, but he nevertheless ranks as 29th in career rushing yards.

All told, Williams for the most part missed four NFL seasons due to retirement, suspension and injuries. Even average seasons would have bumped Williams way up the career rushing list. Perhaps he’s right.