Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, August 14, 2002 1:06 pm

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 1:06 pm

Now that NFL running back Ricky Williams, who moved from the Saints to the Dolphins in the off-season, has gone quasi-public with his social-anxiety disorder, we’ve also learned via ESPN‘s Aug. 12 “Monday Night Countdown” that Williams is taking Paxil for his disorder.

What, I wondered, might that do to his performance as one of the NFL’s premiere running backs (and, by extension, among the most desirable additions to a fantasy-football roster)?

Fortunately, because Paxil is among the most-prescribed drugs in the country (No. 16 in 2001) — it’s a common antidepressant as well as a treatment for social-anxiety disorder — finding users who might be in a position to answer this question wasn’t hard. None of them wanted to be quoted by name, for obvious reasons.

They said Paxil’s effect on his play should be zero. But they cautioned that Williams could expect:

Constipation. “It’ll be bad,” said one of my sources. “Sometimes I feel like I haven’t pooped in days.” The folks I talked to said even eating more dried fruit won’t do much good; one, who has a lactose intolerance, said that the only way he can “get cleaned out” sometimes is to eat a bunch of dairy and then wait for the inevitable diarrhea.

Sleep changes. He may need more sleep and he may sleep less well, my sources say. Also, the pill bottle will caution against driving or operating heavy machinery. “Believe it,” says one of my sources. “I used to like to drive long distances, but I just can’t do it anymore. I get road fog and then, if I don’t pull over, I’ll go to sleep at the wheel. It’s scary.” (If that doesn’t scare you, consider this: Williams recently got pulled for driving 128 mph and admitted in the “Monday Night Countdown” segment that he had driven as fast as 188 mph on public highways. Forget the risk to himself: If he’s going 188, could people get out of the way even if they saw him coming?)

Memory changes. His memory is likely to get a little fuzzy, particularly about names — nothing serious, and probably not enough to affect his ability to remember his playbook, but he might have to stop and think for a minute about the title of his favorite song from when he was 12.

Prostate trouble. “He’ll wake up and think somebody stuck a 70-year-old man’s prostate in him when he wasn’t looking,” one source says. “He might come in from practice needing to pee like a Russian race horse, step up to the urinal and … nothing. Talk about frustration.”

Sexual dysfunction. Williams might or might not care about this, but apparently Paxil (and other antidepressants) can … well, as one of my sources put it, “He’ll be able to negotiate for hours, but he won’t be able to close the deal.” In other words, he’ll have trouble achieving orgasm.

As previously noted, these issues probably won’t directly affect his play. (In the case of a couple of ’em, I’d certainly hope not.) And personally, I think that anything that will keep him from driving in excess of 100 mph on public highways — I’m reminded of Charlotte Hornets guard Bobby Phills’ death in a speeding sports car on a city street — is probably a good thing overall.

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