Marcus Williams could have easily begged off talking to the media after his New Orleans Saints lost to the Minnesota Vikings 29-24 on Sunday. He could have snuck out of the locker room and hid somewhere, avoiding the inevitable questions about his bone-headed play that handed Minnesota a berth in the NFC Championship Game. But he didn’t.
Instead, the 21-year-old rookie showed some serious guts by answering every question he was asked. He manned up and faced the onslaught of queries he knew had to be coming his way and he did it stoically and with class.
When any of us screw up at work it’s hard to answer questions about it. We’ve all been there. Now imagine all of America saw you make a monumental error in the biggest moment of your professional life, and you became the central part of a video that would be aired for decades. Then, after all of that, you got a ton of cameras and lights in your face asking you exactly what you were thinking when you did the dumbest thing on a football field since Mark Sanchez ran into a teammate’s glutes. Very few people would have the stomach to take that.
Marcus Williams stood tall and answered all of those questions. And he did it like a man.
Williams, who had been crying after he entered the locker room, is one tough kid. It was truly impressive that he stood up to those questions and answered them to the best of his ability. His play essentially ended his team’s season, but there he is, facing the music.
Plenty of veterans have dodged questions after big mistakes or poor performances. Most famously, Cam Newton abruptly left his post-game press conference after losing Super Bowl 50. But Williams, a second-rounder out of Utah, stood tall.
Williams had a phenomenal rookie year. He’s a key part of a young Saints defense that could carry the franchise to the playoffs for years to come. In fact, his interception late in the third quarter on Sunday was a huge part of New Orleans’ comeback. The Saints scored six plays later to cut Minnesota’s lead to 17-14.
When he dove at Stefon Diggs on the final play of the game, he seemed to intentionally miss the Vikings receiver so as not to get flagged for pass interference. That left Diggs a clear path to the end zone on one of the crazier plays in NFL playoff history. It was an example of a young player making a mistake. It was the worst moment of his football-playing life.
Then, not a half hour later, Williams showed us the kind of guy he is. It won’t feel like it for him, but there, in that locker room, answering those questions, that was the best moment of his football-playing life.
Accountability is huge in sports. You want to be surrounded by players who hold themselves and their teammates to higher standards. I’d take Marcus Williams on my team any day, and I know I’m not alone.