By Tom Worgo
Baltimore Ravens rookie tight end Maxx Williams is the third generation of his family to play in the National Football League. His grandfather, Bob, played three seasons as a quarterback with the Chicago Bears in the 1950s. And his father, Brian, spent 11 years with the New York Giants as an offensive lineman and won a Super Bowl ring in 1990. Now, it’s the Minnesota native’s turn to try his luck at professional football and see if he can put together a longer career than both his father and grandfather enjoyed. The Ravens have lofty expectations for the 21-year-old Williams, a second-round pick and the first tight end selected in May’s NFL Draft. We recently sat down with Williams to talk about his family, hobbies, and playing with Ravens star quarterback Joe Flacco.
How would you explain the NFL running in your family for three generations?
It’s exciting thinking about that, but I have to one-up my dad. My dad has had the best and longest career between himself and my grandfather. So I have to go out there and win more than one Super Bowl. He played 11 seasons. I have to be here for a long time if I want to beat that. I never met my grandfather. He passed away a couple of years before I was born.
What was the most important thing you learned from your father about football?
He always said, “You have to take it one day at a time.” It’s something I have tried to live by. You can’t control tomorrow or what you did the day before. It’s day by day and you just have to get better every day and move on.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has a reputation of being calm and cool. Have you seen that?
Oh yeah. It’s fun to watch Joe go out there, run around and make the throws that he makes. He is definitely an elite quarterback in my opinion. When he doesn’t like the way you run a route or how you did things, he is the first one to say, “Do this different because it will make it easier for us in the long run.” It’s exciting to play with him. He makes the team better and you can really trust him.
Who have you leaned on for advice? Fellow tight end Dennis Pitta?
I try to talk to anyone I can and particularly the tight end group. Crockett Gillmore had a successful year as a rookie last season and he really has stepped in as a leader of the group. Pitta is a Super Bowl champion and a great tight end. He said, “It’s all about getting open at crunch time in a game and making a play.” For me, it’s about picking up what tips you can.
ESPN Draft Expert Mel Kiper Jr. said you are a strong candidate for AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. Do you welcome that praise?
For me, I really don’t try to listen to that stuff. Every time someone is saying something, I go back to what my dad always says: I can only control one day at a time. People can talk about what we do as a team this year. All we can do is affect what we do on the practice field and what we do better tomorrow to get ready for the game coming up.
What kind of training did you do to prepare for your rookie season?
I did everything I could. I went to a facility with [Vikings’ tight end] Kyle Rudolph out in Minnesota. I got to know him pretty well. He is represented by the same company as me. He took me under his wing and said, “This is what you have to do to get ready for the season.” I tried to one-up him every time so we could get extra work in. The lifting was pretty similar to what I did in college. It was more football-related, running and learning how to cut and get out of breaks.
What have you been able to visit in Baltimore and other places in Maryland since you’ve been here?
I have gone out to dinner a few times in the Inner Harbor with my girlfriend and family. It’s awesome. There are a lot of great restaurants. It’s a lot different for me because I grew up in Minnesota and never really had stuff like that. It’s always been a lot of corn fields for me. It’s great to be in the city. I also went to Ocean City with my girlfriend during Memorial Day weekend and I loved it. The beach and all the restaurants.
What do you do for fun in the offseason?
I love being outdoors, fishing and hunting. It’s harder hunting now because deer season falls during football. I love to fish with my dad. We take fishing trips all the time. We have a pontoon and a fishing boat. There is no salt water up around Minnesota. We are all about walleye, bass, panfish, and muskie. The days when I am not fishing, I am always out on the lake with my friends just hanging out and relaxing. We really have a great time.