Photo courtesy of Homegrown Cannabis Co

Learn | 03.02.2022

Ricky Williams: The Homegrowing Highsman

The story of how an NFL star became a cannabis icon.

Ricky Williams is arguably one of the NFL’s most controversial players. Ever.

Before we jump into his Pro-football career, let’s take a look at his record-breaking performance at the University of Texas. His accolades speak for themselves. 

In 1998, Williams was awarded the Heisman Trophy after breaking Tony Dorsett’s 22-year-old NCAA career rushing record. He led the Longhorns to a 9-3 record, set 21 NCAA records, and received the highest percentage of first-place votes in Heisman history (at the time).

Flash forward a few years, and Ricky was off to the races, again. He made quite the splash in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins (pun intended) and was the NFL’s rushing leader in 2002 with 1,853 total rush yards, earning him First-team ALL-Pro and a Pro-Bowl selection. 

Over the course of 11 years and 3 teams, Ricky became a household name, leaving a legacy that inspired many players today. But many people know him only as the man who compromised his career in favor of drugs. Well, one ‘drug’. Cannabis. 

We’re going to ask some questions. What is it that brought Ricky Williams and cannabis together? How did cannabis help with his football career? And how has growing weed helped him continue to develop as a person, decades after hanging up his cleats?

We’ll search for answers while looking at Ricky’s past, present and future. We’ll look at his passion for astrology, his love of weed, and his latest venture: a super-exciting partnership with the Homegrown Cannabis Co

Ricky loves growing cannabis, and he wants you to grow, too.

A Green Affair

Photo courtesy of Homegrown Cannabis Co

University of Texas, 1994. It’s Ricky’s senior year, and he’s on track to have a record-breaking season. The stars are aligning, and then, out of nowhere, they fall. Ricky and his girlfriend have a falling out, and she immediately starts dating one of Longhorn’s quarterbacks. Ricky’s own teammate!

It was sudden. It was heartbreaking. It did little to ease the pressure of HUGE expectation on his shoulders. No matter how broad they were (and still are). 

Ricky was lost but one of his friends had a suggestion: smoke some weed. He’s never looked back.

“Imagine trying to work or study next to an open window. You’ve got the noise of traffic, shouting, people in a rush, car horns, trucks. You can’t focus. That first joint closed the window. I could concentrate again.”

Contrary to the stereotypical image of the lazy stoner, Ricky found cannabis helped massively with his football. It helped with post-game analysis and physical recovery. It helped with his pre-game preparation. It helped a lot more than the injections and opioids routinely imposed upon him and his teammates.

“Without cannabis, I’d have never won the Heisman.”

These days, it’s easy to recognize the hypocrisy apparent to Ricky. Back then, it was black and white. These drugs are good. These drugs are bad. Cannabis was demonized, its use punishable by vindictively long spells behind bars. 

Not for the first time in his life, and certainly not the last, Ricky felt conflicted. He had to pick a side.

Cannabis, Controversy, And The NFL

Photo courtesy of Homegrown Cannabis Co

Ask anyone about cannabis and sports, and the first name that comes up will be Ricky Williams. A player suspended for the entire 2004 NFL season. 

But cannabis culture is now more open in sport, with athletes like Marshawn Lynch, Matt Barnes and Wilson Chandler, and many others joining the industry. 

Ricky walked so others could run, but he faced plenty of battles along the way.

“It always shocked me, the way cannabis use was stigmatized, and still is. We’re making progress, but there’s a long way to go.”

Football players were (and in many cases, still are) routinely given a raft of pills and injections. Drugs like Toradol arrived in the mid-’90s, masking the pain of damaged tissue, busted fingers, and sprained ligaments.

“It was all about staying on the field. And not just in matches, we were given this stuff after training, too.”

The NFL’s use of Toradol, like its views on cannabis use, is far more measured these days. But Ricky knew he had a fight on his hands.

“Cannabis worked for me. I’m not saying it would’ve worked for all of us, but I’d always choose the natural solution over a needle.”

His passion for cannabis has grown since his football days. He remains an outspoken advocate. He has his own range of ready-to-toke flower. And his love of cultivation has led to one of the most exciting partnerships the 420 world has ever seen.

From The Smallest Seeds Grow Mighty Oaks

Photo courtesy of Homegrown Cannabis Co

Ricky’s passion for the plant goes much deeper than consumption. He recently launched his own line of premium flower, Highsman, with the goal to ‘spark greatness.’ But most don’t know about Ricky’s fever for growing his own, from seed, just as nature intended.

There’s something special about growing anything, especially something like cannabis, that can open your mind and contribute to your spiritual growth. And to know that you can take a seed and put it in the ground and literally nurture yourself in that way, it’s truly something amazing.

So why did Ricky choose to partner with Homegrown? What sets them apart from the countless other cannabis companies operating in the US?

“First off, I had to consider things like authenticity, credibility, and trustworthiness. These are important to me as a person, but vital for anyone operating in this space. Homegrown already boasts collaborations with major players – Kyle Kushman, Steve DeAngelo – I’m in good company here.”

It wasn’t just the credibility of the brand that drew Ricky to Homegrown, it was the depth of collaboration he would be afforded by the partnership. Ricky gave Homegrown’s breeders a challenge: to produce easier-to-grow phenotypes of his favorite cultivars.

The reason for this? Ricky LOVES smoking sativa or sativa-dominant flower. Unfortunately, these are trickier to grow than indicas or autos. As many of you will be aware, sativas are tall and finicky; they need more light, more food, and more skill. They take longer to grow, increasing the odds of disease, mold, and mistakes. 

Basically, they’re bigger plants, and they’re a lot for beginners to handle (see below).

Photo courtesy of Homegrown Cannabis Co

“I can’t tell you how happy I am with the results. My Homegrown cultivars will genuinely help growers bridge the gap between shorter, quicker indicas and bigger, slower sativas.”

Ease of growth is especially important to Ricky, as he favors outdoor growing. His plants are at the mercy of mother nature, subject to whatever pests, pathogens and freaks of weather she chooses to throw at them.

“Yeah, outdoor growing is challenging for sure. But it makes more sense to me. You don’t have to buy all the indoor-growing equipment, you don’t have to run lights 18 hours per day, you don’t have to control airflow, heat, humidity – it’s much cheaper and way more natural. This is where plants should be.”

There are more benefits than those felt in the wallet. More often than not, outdoor plants are tastier, stronger, and more productive. Just take a look at the plants grown by Homegrown’s outdoor experts, Nikki Lastreto and Swami Chaitanya. They easily top ten feet when close to harvest, whether they’re indica, sativa or somewhere in between.

Nikki and Swami at their home, Ganja Ma Gardens

Nikki and Swami share Ricky’s philosophy when it comes to outdoor growing, in fact, they inspired it.

“I learned a lot from Nikki and Swami. They have this amazing article on Homegrown’s blog: how to grow cannabis outdoors. It goes deep into sustainability, regenerative farming, making your own compost teas and nutes. Super-helpful info for all levels of grower.”

It’s true that more and more tokers are becoming growers. The ending of prohibition has thrust cannabis into the spotlight, and people are realizing there’s far more to it than buying eighths from dispensaries.

The arguments are hard to dispute. Growing your own is cheaper, much cheaper. Even if you grow indoors, even if you go out and buy the best kit, you’re still saving a bunch of cash. 

Growing your own puts you in control. You’ll know exactly what went into your weed, how it was grown, what nutes and chemicals you used. You’ll know it’s safe.  

Growing your own often means better quality weed, too. Dispensaries are notoriously hit-and-miss. Even the greenest of beginners growing a pair of small autos can grow incredibly high-quality bud with the proper instruction.

And that’s without the sense of personal satisfaction, the immense pride you experience turning tiny seeds into jars of delicious weed.

“Smoking cannabis is relaxing, no doubt. It’s a spiritual, meditative experience. But getting out in nature, growing your own, that’s where true therapy can be found.”

Ricky’s Homegrown Cultivars

Photo courtesy of Homegrown Cannabis Co

When Ricky chose his Homegrown cultivars, he chose wisely. He chose cultivars that meant something to him. Big, sativa-dominant plants, crammed full of terps, and deliciously, enjoyably potent. 

Chocolate Orange is unique to Homegrown, an amazing cross of Chocolope and the super-tasty Tangie. Ricky’s Purple Haze and Panama are reworked classics, selectively bred to be quicker and easier to grow. You’re about to fall in love.

Photo courtesy of Homegrown Cannabis Co

As a collection, they’re genuinely inspiring. But for Ricky, they’re just the beginning.

“I also teamed up with Homegrown to become a better grower, to get involved. I’m growing all my cultivars this season (2022) with the help of Homegrown Diaries. If you sign up (it costs nothing), you’ll be able to watch my adventure, and you’ll be able to give me advice and tips. You can even grow my cultivars in parallel and compare yields!”

Photo courtesy of Homegrown Cannabis Co

Do you feel up to the challenge? Do you want to help Ricky improve his cultivation skills? Do you want to improve yours? Head over to Homegrown Diaries, register an account, and start growing! Today could be the start of something great.

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