In life and in football, one moment can change everything. The Saints held a 24-23 lead after coming back from a 17-0 deficit at halftime. There were ten seconds left on the clock. If the Vikings completed the pass and the receiver was tackled in bounds, the game would be over. Vikings quarterback Case Keenum threw a ball up to Stefon Diggs on an out route. Rookie safety Marcus Williams went for the kill shot in hopes to force an incompletion, but he whiffed on the tackle. Diggs ran the ball into the end zone as time expired. The Vikings topped the Saints, 29-24.
As expected, Marcus Williams received criticism and hate from those watching. Twitter became a war zone. Fans relentlessly attacked Williams. Analysts blasted his tackle attempt. In the chaos of it all, however, emerged the support from fellow players.
Teammates applauded Williams for the player and person he is. Perhaps the strongest message of encouragement came from Justin Forsett.
— Justin Forsett (@JForsett) January 15, 2018
The lines that stand out to me from Forsett’s tweet are “Every man has a choice when they get knocked down. They can either stay down or rise up.” Considering the person Marcus is, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll rise up.
Marcus Williams attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Eastvale, California. That just so happens to be the school I attend. A celebration at the school was hosted after Williams was drafted by the Saints. I was fortunate enough to partake in the event. Upon arriving at the festivities, each person was handed a card with three quotes Williams lives by.
After the brutal loss, I read over the quotes, and one particularly stuck out to me: “Talent can only get one so far, but it’s those people with the desire, determination, mentality, and ability to outwork everyone and overcome adversity that are successful.”
The play will not define him. He will continue to get better, and his work ethic will only grow. Marcus Williams is not just a tremendous athlete and football player, he’s a great person who has a foundation that can withstand the greatest of blows. A smile that lights up the darkest of rooms is his hallmark. There’s no chance that one play will kill that smile forever. Saints fans will be joyed to see that smile after future interceptions, and opposing teams will begin to hate his bright grin.
It’s too bad that those who aren’t familiar with the Saints only know Marcus Williams for the infamous play that ended the Saints-Vikings game. Soon enough, they’ll learn that he is one of the best young safeties in the game. He intercepted four balls over the course of the regular season, and his interception in Minnesota made the Saints’ comeback possible. Despite being overshadowed by rookie teammates Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore, Williams was a star for the Saints. He was one of the biggest reasons for the team’s defensive rebound. Saints fans need to stop the public onslaught of the 21-year-old. Be disappointed about the outcome but refrain from attacking the player.
The NFL has not seen the end of Marcus Williams. He is a superstar in the making, and Sunday night’s tragic mistake will only serve as fuel to the fire that is his pursuit for greatness. I, for one, cannot wait to witness his revenge tour next year.