Ricky Williams was watching a black-and-white movie on a small screen fastened above his sarcophagus of steel and glass. He was not expecting company that afternoon in mid-August, 2006, and motioned to the doctor to turn off the DVD player so he could at least close his eyes and pretend he was alone, locked in the hissing hyperbaric chamber.
It was during his one-year cameo appearance with the Toronto Argonauts, who added the talented running back to their roster after the National Football League suspended him for a fourth failed drug test. Williams had broken his arm during a game in Regina, and was in a clinic in St. Catharines, Ont., inhaling 100% oxygen at 2,000 times the normal pressure in the hope of speeding his recovery.
It was not his idea to invite a reporter, nor was it the team. It was the clinic, which opened its doors to bask for a moment in the unique spotlight that had followed Williams since he began his escape from the NFL, taking him from a tent in a campground in Australia to a tiny, hissing tube in Southern Ontario. (Photo: Glenn Lowson/National Post)