Quick now, would you allow your child to attend regular, even daily indoctrination sessions with a mentor without so much as being abreast as to the nature of what’s supposedly being discussed?
The Ricky Williams Charitable Foundation for at-risk kids now finds itself in the midst of battling such polarizing perception after aligning itself with Access Consciousness, a controversial California-based self-help group founded by businessman and philanthropist Gary Douglas and Dr. Dain Heer that critics charge not only condones cult-like behavior it advances its teachings.
Always an eccentric in spirit and an altruist at heart, the former NFL all pro-back has further ingratiated himself with the work of his foundation since retiring from the league at the end of last season. To account for a $32 million shortfall in lost investments brought on by his sudden career change, for a time Williams covered most expenses out of his own pocket.
Now, word is he’s partnered with Douglas and Co., signaling what many fear some could be the beginning of the end of all his good deeds.
Though hardly what one would consider a conformist over the course of his eleven-year NFL career, the teachings of Williams—who in 2004 infamously walked away from the game and a multi-million dollar contract largely so he could continue to partake in his runaway weed-smoking habit— strike one as downright fundamental when compared to the outlandish nature of those proposed by Access.
“Being instrumental in the physical, mental, emotional and educational development of at-risk individuals from low social-economic communities,” read the RWF bylines, indeed tepid in tone when aligned alongside such eye-popping boasts made by Douglas and Access trumpeting his ability “to read minds, heal the wounded with his bare hands and speak with molecules.
“I teach them how to be aware of what they are aware of, and how to take answers out of other people’s heads when they take tests and stuff so they can get all A’s and B’s instead of C’s and D’s,” Douglass added.
Translation? In even potentially allowing Access to bankroll his foundation, Ricky Williams risks squandering his whole base. And what of “Rickys Kids,” the signature arm of Williams’ Foundation, which pledges to aid over a million youths by virtue of providing “culturally conscious educational programs.”
Access Consciousness mission statements such as “I’ve personally changed water where it was muddy and cloudy into the point where it was clear” or “he can teach men how to give women “between seven and 15 orgasms in an hour,” don’t appear to fit the bill.
The gladiator he prides himself on being, the 5-10, 230 pounder shakes it all off in much the same routine fashion in which he shed all those linebackers en route to racking up his five thousand-yards plus seasons. Instead, the 35-year-old father of two contends he merely held a question-and answer session streamed online as a fundraiser involving Access , which he adds, despite all the claims to the contrary, prides itself on teaching kids “limitless life-skills.”
“I was talking to Gary about my foundation and what we were doing, and when we were talking, he said he’s been working with kids, and we decided that we would do a camp for the kids to let them know they have more choice in their lives,” Williams told the Miami New Times. “They just agreed to do a fundraiser and let all the proceeds for this class come to the foundation.”
Let’s be clear, no one has accused Williams, the foundation or even Douglas, Heer or Access of any gross wrongdoings in the combined twenty-five plus years both have been of service. Yet, in this painful day and age of godless acts committed by the likes of Jerry Sandusky and Penn State University, shouldn’t we at least get to the bottom of learning what’s being preached and perpetrated before allowing any institution greater influence or dominion over our children?
Alas, the mind reigns as the most powerful of all instruments. And to allow into to waste away by cluttering itself with the most warped and twisted of beliefs and virtues is to succumb to that perhaps an even greater entrapment.
Glenn Minnis is a veteran sports and culture writer who has contributed to the likes of ESPN, Vibe and the NFL Magazine. He has also been on staff at AOL Sports, the Chicago Tribune and was the founding sports editor for 360HipHop.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.