Dear Marcus Williams,
I watched your game last night, as you and the New Orleans Saints seemed primed to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 24-23 and move onto Philadelphia for the NFC Championship. I remember even commenting to my fellow writers here at The Athletes Hub that I had gone two for four in my Divisional Round predictions, because I, admittedly, had predicted Minnesota to win.
Then it happened.
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum dropped back and connected with wide receiver Stefon Diggs for a miraculous touchdown. It happened so fast in real time that I didn’t see how Diggs got open.
Once I saw it on replay, I immediately felt sick. For you, and for the Saints. This was a team who entered the 2017 season with very few exceptions, especially on the defensive side of the ball. However, it was players like you, a second round rookie safety out of the University of Utah, who helped this team get into playoff contention and gave the city of New Orleans hope for another Super Bowl. For that, you should be proud of the accomplishments achieved this season.
You are a rookie though, and things happen. In the post game interviews, you were hard on yourself. I felt compelled to write to you because although you do not know me, I want you to know that I am behind you one hundred percent.
I admired what Drew Brees had to say about experience being a tough teacher. As we go through life, we make mistakes. Our experience with those mistakes is something we can all learn from. However, life isn’t necessarily about how many times you avoid failure. It’s not about how hard you fall, but it’s whether you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get ready for the next time.
As an example, allow me to tell a small anecdote from my past high school season. I go to Brandon High School, and we were at home facing Clio. In the third quarter, Clio’s ball, it was a second and nine situation. It was a run play right at me, but I let the running back slip right through my arms, as he gained a first down. Following that, I got up off the ground and started focusing on the next play.
What happened the next play? A botched handoff, as all 6’5″, 337 lbs of me bursted through the line to scoop up the fumble. That was my first start, and my first big play. I picked myself up and moved on.
You have had many more great days than you have had bad, and overall, you played a decent game yesterday. This missed tackle will overshadow your interception in the third quarter, which ultimately set up a Saints score. You will rebound from this, and you will achieve many great things in the league. One day, I believe you’ll get a ring.
Don’t let this moment eat you up. You’re human, and things happen. This is when you need to pick yourself up and move on to the next game.
Photo Credit: AP