Ricky Williams is a famously enigmatic running back. He is one of 27 people to rush for more than 10,000 yards at the pro level. His 2002 campaign was fantastic: he led the league in rushing with 1853 yards (14th most in a single season) and in carries with 383 (14th most in one season), had 2216 yards from scrimmage (20th most in a single season), scored 17 touchdowns, and was first-team All Pro.
Things went downhill from there, perhaps because he carried the ball 392 times the next year (7th most ever in a season). That's 775 attempts in two years. I think that's the most carries ever in consecutive seasons. The closest players I can find are Larry Johnson (752 in 2005-2006), James Wilder (772 in 1984-1985), and Eric Dickerson (769 attempts in 1983-1984). Johnson and Wilder broke down the next year. Dickerson survived and even thrived but he might not be human. Throw in 97 receptions over that span and you will appreciate how many lumps Ricky took his first two years in Miami. It's no surprise that he had to self-medicate.
Ricky may have to spark mad izm again soon, as he's about to take more lumps in federal court (bonus KRS video!). Tattoo artist Stephen Allen of Crybabies Tattoo in Shreveport, LA sued Ricky Williams and Electronic Arts, Inc. in the Western District of Lousisiana for copyright infringement. According to the complaint, Mr. Allen gave Ricky Wiliams a tattoo in 2003 for $200. In 2010, Mr. Allen learned that Ricky Williams, tattoos and all, appeared on the cover of two video games made by EA Sports:
So, naturally, Mr. Allen sued Ricky Williams and EA. According to Mr. Allen's complaint, he "is the owner of all right, title and interest to the original artwork form [sic] which the tattoo on Mr. Williams' arm was created" and "[t]he artwork from which the tattoo on Mr. Wialliams' right and left arms was created is original with [Mr. Allen] and is copyrightable subject matter." He asserts that neither Ricky nor EA received his permission to reproduce, distribute, adapt, or publicly display his "Copyrighted Work."
I have a hard time seeing the tattoos in the images above but maybe they're clearer when you look at the game. And one of them seems to match one of Ricky Williams' arm tattoos:
But I'm not sure I'm buying all this. It seems to me that once you stick a tattoo on someone it is implicit that they have the right to publicly display it. And they also have the right to adapt it if, for example, they want to get a cover-up. Finally, it seems unfair that a famous person can't cash in on their fame by getting an endorsement deal without coughing up cash to their tattoo artist. But I know nothing about tattoo copyrights so maybe this is a typical cause of action. Imagine how much Lil Wayne has to pay his inkers whenever someone runs his photo in print!?! No one enjoys my lenghty pontifications so I won't spill any more ink (puns!) regarding what I think about this case.
The highlight of the complaint is Exhibit 1, a "Consent to Tattoo or Piercing Procedure & Release of Claims" from Crybabies Tattoo signed by Ricky Williams. I enjoyed this because when Ricky Williams signs his name his finishing flourish is the number 34. Check it:
Good think he never played for the Bears! Otherwise he would have to adapt (ha!) his signature to incorporate a second number. If he separated the numbers with a dash or a slash he would have the beginnings of a math problem, and he is not a mathematician. As the foregoing image shows, he can't even remember his date of birth or print his name.
I can't wait to see what happens when Mark appears on the cover of Grand Theft Auto. Perhaps we'll find out that he signs his name with a 69.