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Maxx Personality: Williams Stays Positive After Knee Injury

Tight end hopes to re-sign with Cardinals as he heads toward free agency

Tight end Maxx Williams (87) gets encouragement from quarterback Kyler Murray before being carted off the field after a knee injury in Week 5 of the 2021 season.
Tight end Maxx Williams (87) gets encouragement from quarterback Kyler Murray before being carted off the field after a knee injury in Week 5 of the 2021 season.

The then-undefeated Cardinals were getting ready to play the Packers on a nationally televised Thursday night game when Maxx Williams tweeted.

The Cardinals tight end, his season by then over by a couple of weeks after tearing his ACL in a home game against the 49ers, staged a photo of himself in his house mimicking the famous Kliff Kingsbury draft-night-at-his-house photo.

"Might seem familiar to some but my backyard view isn't as good as somebody I know!" Williams wrote.

Unable to be on the field for his team, that would have to stand as his contribution.

"It was because I was still part of this team and I wanted to do whatever I could," Williams said before a recent rehab session. "If the team is in a good mood, everyone is in good spirits, still being myself, I figured all I could do is be positive and attack my situation the best I can, still be engaged as much as I could be."

The tweets came regularly each week from Williams, after his once-promising season was derailed. He was there in spirit, if not in the lineup.

Williams was the perfect tight end for the Cardinals in their early run. He caught 16 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown in less than five games and was an in-line blocker the Cardinals needed. Going into the final year of his contract, it was setting up symbiotically for both he and the team – until 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley drilled his knee on the sideline after a second-quarter catch.

The Cardinals got needed help at the position, especially receiving-wise, when they traded for Zach Ertz. But Williams was missed, and he missed the game.

"It sucks," Williams said. "There's not a better word for it. It was obviously not how I saw my year going and not how I wanted to end my year. But I sulked for about a day or two and then realize, it happens. I could sit around and be all mad about it or I could get back in and get to rehab and put myself in the best opposition I can to be back next year – hopefully here – and playing football."

The one-time second-round pick of the Ravens had injuries curtail his time in Baltimore and missed a chunk of the 2020 season with a bad ankle. That's why his big start to this season was so important, especially with a contract coming to an end.

"I was just having fun," Williams said. "I stopped worrying about it. I feel like I've been in this league long enough that I feel like don't have to come in and prove myself as someone worthy, that the coaches should like. I just came in and wanted to be myself, be my Maxx personality, and have fun playing football every day.

"That's how I did it all spring, as soon as we got to camp, I put a smile on my face every day at practice and the more fun you have, the better you play, because you are out there doing what you love."

It isn't to say the injury doesn't drag Williams down at times, but he credited his support system – specifically his wife, Amanda – for getting him through rough patches and "get out what I call the bad emotions at home and keep it away from my work life."

The next month or so will be pivotal in Williams' future. Amanda is due with the couple's first child in a few weeks, and the NFL's free agency period starts March 16. (Like Williams, Ertz is also a free-agent-to-be.)

Williams smiles when considering the life-changing events upcoming. Even after tearing up his knee, being positive is what he does.

"I just want to get myself in the best position," Williams said, "so they'll want me to be back next year and doing what I love, which is play football."

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