Baltimore veteran hangs up his shoulder pads

Veteran Baltimore Ravens running back Ricky Williams has announced his retirement after 11 seasons in the NFL.

Williams, 34, is one of 26 NFL players to rush for more than 10,000 yards in his career. He led the league in rushing in 2002 with 1,853 yards while with the Miami Dolphins.

“The NFL has been an amazing page in this chapter of my life,” Williams, who rushed for 444 yards and scored two touchdowns with the Ravens last season, said in a statement.

“I love the game and leave it feeling fulfilled, proud, in great health and excited about the future.”

Williams, taken fifth overall in the 1999 NFL Draft, spent three years with the New Orleans Saints, seven with the Dolphins and one with the Ravens.

He topped 1,000 rushing yards in five seasons and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2002.

Williams retired before the 2004 season when facing a four-game suspension and $650,000 fine for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, but returned in 2005.

Ravens starting running back Ray Rice, who led the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage in 2011, paid tribute to his 2011 back-up in Baltimore.

“As a young player, you need to be around a guy who knows what he is doing, and Ricky was tremendous to learn from,” Rice said.

“The way he took care of his body and the way he prepared, he always showed that he is a true professional.”